By Elizabeth McCracken
Thunderstruck is a powerful collection of short stories by one of America's best contemporary literary fiction writers, Elizabeth McCracken (The Giant's House). Each story has a strong undercurrent of profound pain and loss, interwoven with shimmering moments of joy, humor and beauty. The characters and circumstances in many cases boarder on absurdity, but are just rooted enough in reality to lend a sharp sense of recognition to the reader.
There is the story of the mother so over come by the grief of her daughter's death that she boards up her room. In "The Lost & Found Department of Greater Boston," a woman goes missing, leaving a young boy behind and a mystery that fascinates the manager of a local grocery store. And the title story "Thunderstruck," parents struggling to control a free spirited daughter decide to flee to Paris for a summer, which culminates in a tragedy so deep the family is nearly torn apart by it. Each story is rich, dense and potent, and I had to take breaks between each to let them percolate before going back for more.