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Unter Engeln, unbemerkt
Elizabeth McCracken
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Unter Engeln, unbemerkt

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  588 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Elizabeth McCracken's first novel, THE GIANT'S HOUSE--a finalist for the 1996 National Book Award--was widely praised for its heart, its humor, and its poetic yet unsentimental voice. Like her extraordinary novel, McCracken's stories are a delightful blend of eccentricity and romanticism. In the title story, a young man and his wife are intrigued and amused when a peculiar ...more
Published (first published 1993)
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I've purchased this book at least 4 times. No one I lend it to will return it.
I know I'm reading a really good book when I am coming to completion and feel sad. A lot of books that I read, even if I am enjoying them I get excited to finish because then I get to start a new book. But with this one, I was like, aw please just one more story?

The main reason I was looking to finishing this one was so that I could come on here and write "This was a crackin' good read" and then say "See what I did there? Huh?!" But it doesn't have as much impact in the second paragraph of the
I'd read Elizabeth McCracken's collection of short stories, Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry, a few years before, but by the time I picked it up this week while looking for something attention-deficit friendly, I couldn't have told you anything about any of the stories in the collection. I think the best way I can describe these stories, then, is that I would get a page or two into some of them and think how much they reminded me of some really good story I'd read sometime in the past. Of cours ...more
God, Elizabeth McCracken is good. Her aesthetic and her stories themselves are so firmly rooted in the past but in such an authentic way. The title story here was a standout, as was the final story, the name of which I can't remember, all of a sudden. But every story here is excellent, and there are a couple of stories which feel repetitive in their themes, but it doesn't really matter because McCracken writes what she knows very well, and it's a pleasure to read in any iteration.
My criteria for 5-star short story collections:

1) At least two stories must really dazzle me
2) I can at no point feel bored while reading any of the stories

The best story here is the title one, "Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry," about a drifting distant relative who blows from house to house. It's fun, it's sad, it's hopeful. A really good one.

But there aren't any others that particularly strike me. "June" is probably the second-best story, but it's borderline too-uncomfortable-to-enjoy, and "
Weng Cahiles
I still remember that moment when I first saw an Elizabeth McCracken book. I was waiting for a friend at FullyBooked, my favorite place to wait for people because there is nothing more pleasurable than letting time fly in a room filled with books.

I was browsing through shelves and shelves of books, looking for the familiar authors and titles and then I saw this book with a pretty cover: two shoes, one is big (as that of a giant’s) and a regular sized one, placed side by side. I read the blurb an
The Giant's House is still one of my favorite books. This collection, which came out first, demonstrated McCracken's gift at the short story as well. I had read a number of these stories before, but they continued to amaze. Other stories which were new to me were also wonderful. Many of her stories are full of misfits or people just on the fringe of society, but all portrayed sympathetically and not all that different than "the rest of us". I really enjoy when I think about several of the charac ...more
Solid. I really like Elizabeth McCracken's short stories. She has a peculiar, or at least distinctive style. Unsentimental? She doesn't do the feeling for you. And her details are EVERYTHING.
Well-written with great characters. Really enjoyed these short stories.
I typically do not read collections of short stories but I like this read. This is a collection of stories sharing similar themes with quirky and offbeat characters. I admire the author's ability to tell these stories in such way that the characters are seemingly comfortable in their own skins in spite of the circumstances in which life has placed them. The stories had a circus quality to them and I was left with a feeling of melancholy as I finished each one. I missed the humor described in man ...more
Donna Jo Atwood
This is one of the most readable books of short stories that I've picked up. It is not startling or filled with dark humor, but it does feature some quirky people. Several are told in first person and several are set in Iowa or reference places in Iowa that I am familiar with. The people in the stories feel like people I might have known, but these are the hidden depths (or in some cases, shallows) I wasn't aware of.
Anyway, for a book I picked up simply because of the title, I'm glad I read it a
really great short stories!
At first, completely enchanted. The first paragraph of "Some Have Entertained Angels Unaware" is *brilliant and there are many charming and witty sentences. However after about the first 5 stories, I felt a weariness grow over me. Too much quirky for quirkiness' sake? Too much repetition of certain themes? By the end I could barely stand it. There are a few really great stories and I'd love to see this author develop a bit more because she is not without talent.
Her characters are eccentric (a tattooed lady, an impostor aunt, a coma victim's partner, a child protege wannabe, retired circus folk, an almost abused little girl, a family that likes to discuss hypotheticals seriously: like who will have which post when they run the country or what disastrous ends the kids will come to, and a murderer). Many of the stories are touching, there is an undercurrent of love. In some of the stories sadness overwhelms the love.
I read this over a vacation during the summer of 2004, a good portion of it while lying on a hillside in Central Park. Which is unimportant, except in that I remember every detail about that hillside, and that day, and I think a large part of that is that McCracken's storytelling is so sharp, so full of unusual imagery, that it makes everything around you stand out in relief, like the world suddenly comes into focus.
Adele Loria
Man, this is where I wish there were more stars so that I could choose something between "Liked it" and "Really liked it." McCracken is good, really good - I tracked this down after reading "An Exact Replica of A Figment of My Imagination," which is absolutely incredible. And the stories in this collection are well-written and absorbing, but they pale in comparison to "An Exact Replica."
There were some great short stories in here and a couple that were just good - but I love her writing style. It all feels very fifties and sixties esque - I guess it feels retro. The characters were refreshing but I do think the stories all had a similar feel and quality so after a while they all started to blend together a bit, even if the plots were varied.
I am not much of a short story reader; however, I am currently obsessed with reading all things Elizabeth McCracken. I enjoyed the first three stories the best, the rest were just too sad. I really enjoy the author's descriptions and phrases - she just writes so wonderfully!
I'm not usually a short story fan, but I have to admit that I really enjoyed this collection by Elizabeth McCracken. They were odd, engaging, and witty. With vibrant characters who each had a story to tell, it was truly enjoyable. I'd definitely recommend to just about anyone.
McCracken's stories pack some heartbreaking punch! Quirky characters (retired circus performers, con-artists of the most unlikely type) rendered human by matter-of-fact prose and verve. Like an amazing mash-up of Flannery O'Connor and Richard Brautigan. A new favorite.
I keep reading words like "quirky" and "offbeat" to describe this collection, but honestly, it was just beautiful and made me cry behind my sunglasses on the metro multiple times. The first story, about the tattoo artist, is a new all-time favorite love story.
A wondrous first set of stories. McCracken writes with an infectious joy about the strange and difficult ways people relate. Worth it for the similes. Neighbor kids? "dirty and nosy as trowels" Taciturn woman? "pale and bitter as aspirin." Among dozens.
Very good strange stories. I started out each one thinking I wouldn't like it, but I ended up being into all of them. A book like a box of oatmeal cookies! Standouts: "Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry," "June," "The Goings On of the World."
The few engaging stories seemed to end prematurely. Most characters felt flat and there was little resolution to any plot. I could almost hear the writer say, "I have to turn this in to my MFA workshop tomorrow, so I better hurry up and finish it."
Populated with unusual, even weird, characters, these stories challenged me to think beyond my own understanding, and certainly beyond my experience. Quirky people with strange histories pulled me into and involved me in their lives.
Ann Douglas
An intriguing and quirky collection of short stories by a highly talented writer. I am happy that this is the first book I have read by Elizabeth McCracken because this means I still have the rest of her books to discover.
Dec 29, 2007 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story readers, writers who like a well written story
Shelves: adult-fiction
Purchased after I read her book The Giant's House which I love with a deep passion (read library copy, then bought my own...that kind of connect). I love how the characters tell their story, love how they fit in the world.
Badly Drawn Girl

A bit uneven, I felt. Some of the stories were down right brilliant but others didn't seem to live up to their potential. Overall an enjoyable read but not anything I'd recommend across the board to friends.
The characters were so well drawn that I didn't notice so much when the plot lagged a little in some of the stories. My favorite was "Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry" with the "aunt's" connections.
Caitlin Mccaskey
I wish I could give this one SIX stars. It's now up there with LIKE LIFE, WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE, and INTERPRETER OF MALADIES as one of my favorite short story collections of all time.
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Elizabeth McCracken (born 1966) is an American author. She is married to the novelist Edward Carey, with whom she has two children - August George Carey Harvey and Matilda Libby Mary Harvey. An earlier child died before birth, an experience which formed the basis for McCracken's memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.

McCracken, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was born in
More about Elizabeth McCracken...
The Giant's House An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination Thunderstruck & Other Stories Niagara Falls All Over Again Something Amazing - short story in Zoetrope: All-Story, Spring 2008

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“My father was right: you could make anybody amazing just by insisting they were.” 7 likes
“I told him that I apologised, that I understood, but really: I am not a museum, not yet, I'm a love letter, a love letter.” 1 likes
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