Saturday, June 24, 2017


Turf: Stories by Elizabeth Crane
Soft Skull Press: 6/13/17
eBook review copy; 208 pages
ISBN-13: 9781619029347

Turf: Stories by Elizabeth Crane is a very highly recommended collection of twenty-two short stories. With an eye for detail, Cranes demonstrates sometimes matter-of-fact, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes tongue-in-cheek observations. The stories included may be lists or observations or short stories or brief glimpses into a life. Although a few were not quite winners for me, the collection was excellent when considered as a whole. The stories can be loosely organized into themes as you read, which begs you to compare them. The writing is quite good and all the stories flowed smoothly and held my interest.


Everywhere, Now: Crane journeys from city or state or continent (Rome, Oklahoma, Seattle, Australia, Nevada, Idaho, etc.) sharing a commonplace, specific event that happens during the same moment in time. "In Rome, a woman who won a prestigious art fellowship falls in love with a local.... Somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma, a UPS guy delivers a package... In Seattle, a barista... In Australia, a woman’s house just washed away, she watched it from a tree."

The Genius Meetings: Geniuses meet to talk with their own kind. "On the first Wednesday of the month we meet at one of our homes to discuss our achievements and share our profound and original thoughts." "We meet to congratulate ourselves but also to purge ourselves. We meet to share things we cannot share with you."

Star Babies: An imagined future expansion of the current social media tabloid culture is explored. "First the star babies took over the state of California. Star babies multiplied rapidly in Los Angeles, slowly pushing out all the other babies, out into the Valley and as far east as Joshua Tree."

Roosters: Stream of consciousness chronicling a woman's search through a store. "I am pretty sure a bag of kettle corn or two is just what I need. I’ll just get three. Because today I am going to be kind to myself. That is what the books say I should do and so that is what I will do. I will start by treating myself to whatever I want. Here I come, fancy cheese."

Here Everything’s Better:  A woman focuses on a tall woman she seems to repeatedly see while shopping.

Some Concerns: A list of fears, large and small. "I am afraid that this shirt does not go with this sweater. I am afraid that my outfit does not match. I am afraid that my outfit is too matchy-matchy."

Where Time Goes: A rambling discussion of the fluid nature of time "...if you look for it, it might turn up in places you wouldn’t have much reason to think about. A lot of this time was left behind by the former owners of this house, all of whom eventually died there. These people did the best they could with their time, but they didn’t know the truth..."

Looking: A list of what the author likes looking at.

All the Wigs of the World:  "Bigwigs are everywhere, all around us. If you are the biggest wig in one world, you can be sure there is another world with a bigger wig than you. If you are not the biggest wig in your world, there is still a good likelihood that there is a smaller wig than you."

Mr. and Mrs. P Are Married: The life of two people who eventually have a histrionic relationship is chronicled.

Best Friends Seriously Forever: Two fourteen year old girls who are best friends, go through a traumatic experience.

Old Friends: Two longtime friends get together in New York.

Justin Bieber’s Hair in a Box: "Justin Bieber’s hair is in a box on your dresser, a gift for your niece.."

Stella’s Thing: We follow Stella through a time in her life involving her tattoos. "Stella had two tattoos: a bee on each clavicle, bee-sized. It hurt when she got them."

Notes for an Important American Story: Notes highlighting not the story as much as the self-importance of an author of literary fiction as the story is conceived. "This is a story about a man whose heart is large but full of rage. Or just angst. Or just malaise. Something like that."

Heroes: A six-year-old boy makes a unlikely superhero out of Bob Brown, a disagreeable man who saved a child from getting hit by a bus.

Turf: "This story takes place in the large Midwestern city of Hicago, which as you are surely aware, does not even exist, much of it not existing at a dog park very close to the intersection of Hackhawk and Heaver, which is also made up." The two main characters are dog walker Hulie and the dog owner Helizabeth.

Video: "We did not exist before now. We are young and nameless and our skin is unblemished and our hair is just like this and we keep our faces blank, always."

Wind: On the last day of her life, a grandmother wakes up to discover that she has gone bald overnight.

We Collect Things: "Our deal is we collect things. The only requirement for membership is a collection of one thousand things. More is fine. More is better. Our preference is for collections of just one type of thing, but we are not exclusive in this way."

Today in Post-Apocalyptic Problems:  A post-apocalyptic story where a couple finds a baby in a bucket on their doorstep.

Notes for A Dad Story:  Another window of insight into the framework of creating a story.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Soft Skull Press.

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