Friday, June 8, 2012

Excellent reviews pouring in for Elizabeth Crane's debut novel

Elizabeth Crane is the author of three phenomenal short story collections, but now she has come out with her first novel!  WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH is the story of a multi-generational dysfunctional family, written with empathy, humor, and a razor sharp, unforgettable voice.

The book publishes on Tuesday the 12th, and the praise has been coming in thick and fast already!  View several early reviews below:

"After three scintillating short story collections, Crane delivers her first novel, a tragicomedy of epic familial malfunctions...As Crane illuminates each floundering character's thoughts and fears, she addresses the reader in the first-person plural, admitting at one point, 'We know a lot, but not everything.'  Not only doesn't the allegedly omniscient narrator know all, Crane avers, we barely understand ourselves, let alone our loved ones...This is an irresistible and winsome read.  A truly astute tale of love neglected and reclaimed, family resiliency, spiritual inquiries, and personal metamorphoses." --Booklist, starred review

"Crane's novel is filled with deliciously idiosyncratic characters, humorous and distinct narration, and a whole lot of personality.  Each character's emotional growth is just enough to satisfy, without being overbearing...Crane's summer novel has undeniable heart." --Publishers Weekly

Finally, we couldn't help but share the whole text of this wonderful review from Kirkus:

Crane delivers a unique and dizzying tale that delves into the emotional life of a family teetering on the brink of everything.  Best known for her three short story collections, Crane graduates to novels with a surprisingly centered and cohesive debut about a family that is, as their self-centered teenage daughter would phrase it, "losing their shit."  Our most promising and emotionally truthful character is Jean Copeland, seemingly dutiful wife to husband Gordon and equally devoted mother to teenage daughter Priscilla and nine-year-old romantic Otis.  But we soon learn that life in the Copeland family is not at all what it might seem on the surface.  In fact, Jean is having a joyful affair with James, a member of her book club who quietly suffers from disabling depression.  Gordon is dealing with his own challenges, as the self-professed expert in nearly everything is rapidly losing his memory.  Priscilla thinks her future lies in reality TV shows, but that's mostly beside the point--"First of all, Priscilla is a bitch," Crane candidly writes.  Otis's story is the sweetest as he pines away for a classmate, toiling away at heart-shaped crosswords to win her heart.  The beauty in Crane's novel is her sweep from acid commentary to heartfelt portrayal of real-life loves and losses.  "Review: difficult daughter, know-it-all dad, son sweet and okay if a little weird, mom delayed potential/having affair, great grandmother bitchy, granddad losing it.  So we know where we're starting," writes Crane.  But Crane's offhand style is woven seamlessly with heartbreaking arcs like the suicide of Jean's lover, Gordon's inappropriate Facebook stalking of a former classmate, and Jean's elegant dismissal of her daughter's drama.  "God didn't punk, you, daughter," adds Jean in an internal monologue.  "Life is what you make it.  Nobody knows this better than me."  Life in a snow globe made from dashed dreams and misunderstandings.

Crane's writing has previously been called "distinctive and eccentric...riveting" by The New York Times Book Review, "boldly original" by The Washington Post, "utterly refreshing" by The San Francisco Chronicle, "so damn clever" by Jane, and "hypnotic" by Newsday.

If you're craving more of her writing after reading the novel, don't miss her short story collections, WHEN THE MESSENGER IS HOT (Little Brown, 2003), ALL THIS HEAVENLY GLORY (Little Brown, 2005), and YOU MUST BE THIS HAPPY TO ENTER (Akashic Books, 2008).

Harper Perennial, June 2012

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