cover image Turf


Elizabeth Crane. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-61902-934-7

A daring piece of literature delicately teetering between story and observation, Crane’s fourth collection is an encounter with her inimitable “turf”—a profoundly scrutinized world. Opening with the stunning “Everywhere, Now,” Crane skips from city to city, continent to continent, capturing the same moment in time across the globe and elevating the quotidian as part of the full breadth of life. A monthly gathering of the überintelligent features incredibly accomplished men who are clueless about matters of the heart in “The Genius Meetings.” The author’s penchant for lists shines in several stories: “Where Time Goes” is an encyclopedic repository that is both poignant and humorous; “Some Concerns” catalogues a panoply of fears from mundane fashion mishaps and household mistakes to the heartrending fear of not being able to measure up. Whether she’s revealing how a story might be put together (“Notes for an Important American Story” and “Notes for a Dad Story”) or parsing relationships (the varied and complicated factors bringing people together in “Mr. and Mrs. P Are Married,” or the futuristic “Today in Post-Apocalyptic Problems,” in which Janie and Dan’s Spartan lives are briefly brightened by the appearance of a baby on their doorstep), Crane demonstrates insight into our deepest fears and desires and what makes people tick. (June)