by Elizabeth Crane

List Price: $16.95
Paperback | 5.5 x 8.2, 208 pages | ISBN 9781619029347

An Electric Literature Best Short Story Collection of 2017

Through her three story collections and two novels, Elizabeth Crane’s singular literary vision has created worlds of characters standing boldly in the face of their complicated circumstances. Blazing through states, cities, towns, continents, Crane fearlessly pivots from micro to macro, humor to tragedy, past to present, mixing an off kilter sensibility with a heartbreaking reality, guiding us into the fringed and often fantastical lives of her characters. And that has never been truer than in her new collection, Turf.

The end of the world as seen through a young couple in Brooklyn, who find a baby in a bucket on their front step; a group of geniuses who meet every Wednesday, able to unlock all the secrets of the universe except for the unknowable mystery of love; a woman and her dog walker whose friendship is uprooted by an incident at the park; these are dark, intriguing vistas explored in Crane’s glowing collection. For as places change, and people come and go, these stories in Turf remind us that it is the unchanging nature of the human heart that connects us all.

I cannot remember the last time I simultaneously cried and laughed as hard as I did while reading Elizabeth Crane’s glorious, tender knockout of a novel, The History of Great Things. Wait, yes I can. It was the last time I spoke to my mom about life.

—Amber Tamblyn, author of Dark Sparkler

Like everything Elizabeth Crane writes, The History of Great Things is wonderful fun to read-smart, insightful, and witty-but it will break your heart, too. It stares down the poignant question so many daughters want to ask: How well did my mother really know me?

—Pamela Erens, author of Eleven Hours and The Virgins

Elizabeth Crane has written a novel that is both unprecedented and fantastic (a word I mean in every sense). Without question, the unconventional narrative is compelling in a can’t-stop-reading kind of way. But there’s more to this book than a keen story cleverly told. Her every page thrums with wisdom, buzzes with truth. What did I learn after reading The History of Great Things? I learned that love survives death. And that no one ever really goes away, even if they have. And that all sides have many stories. And that we make our own happiness. This is unlike any novel I’ve ever encountered and it’s absolutely wonderful.

—Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of Hausfrau

In her signature prose style, full of verve and wit, Elizabeth Crane unpacks the problematic relationship between mother and daughter that will resonate with anyone. By telling each other’s stories, the mother and daughter in The History of Great Things reinvent each other, their relationship, and the possibility of empathy. You will cry, weep, and be glad you went along for this very particular beautiful and heartbreaking ride.

—Emily Rapp Black, author of The Still Point of the Turning World

The novel flows smoothly, and readers game for offbeat narrative approaches will be well rewarded...So much like the relationship they’re borne of, Crane’s deeply realized mother-daughter inventions are therapeutic and ruthless, heartfelt and crushing. A lovely exercise in the wild, soothing wonders of imagination.

Booklist, Starred Review

Poignant and hilarious...Crane writes about the relationship between a deceased mother and her daughter as they tell each other’s stories to understand each other.

—Michele Filgate, Los Angeles Times

Imagine sitting at a leisurely dinner with two intelligent women, a mother and daughter....The format may be experimental, but the emotions the book will stir in readers are moving and heartbreakingly familiar.

Library Journal

Elizabeth Crane’s latest novel, The History of Great Things, is a poignant dual narrative featuring a mother and daughter whose disparate paths ultimately prevent them from ever truly understanding each other. . . . Alternating between laugh-out-loud humor and heart-rending melancholy, Crane gives us a mother and daughter who never quite grasp each other’s life stories, but who find truth through unconditional love.


Ultimately, The History of Great Things is a story of perception, one well worth reading. It serves as a reminder that what truly matters to each of us is not what actually happens, but how we remember it.

The Rumpus

At last a novel from Elizabeth Crane! With her expert humorist’s eye for detail, she gives us a playful, passionate story of longing, heartbreak, and of the gargantuan human will. You won’t be able to stop reading.

—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution

Not since The Royal Tenenbaums have I loved a family so much. The Copelands of We Only Know So Much are wonderfully eccentric, hilariously not self-aware, and strangely adorable. They seemed so real, I felt like I was reading my own family story.

—Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Trouble with Lexie

This is the kind of book that inspires a person to see the beauty in the ordinary, to stop concentrating on others’ failings long enough to see their spark and maybe rediscover his or her own.

—Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue

Crane delivers a unique and dizzying tale that delves into the emotional life of a family teetering on the brink of everything. . . . The beauty in Crane’s novel is her sweep from acid commentary to heartfelt portrayal of real-life loves and losses.


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

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

A beautiful, warmhearted, ferociously honest debut that will pull you in with its chorus of true voices and catch you off guard with its playful, restless edginess.

—Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River

What I know for sure is this: Elizabeth Crane understands family. The simple pleasures, the daily outrage, the constant burying of secrets. Be careful what you say to your children--they are listening. A funny and remarkable first novel.

—Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie and Red Car

Its style is literary, with an edge: The point of view is wicked, the characters prickly, the language not quite quotable here. I can’t wait to read past the first chapter.

Los Angeles Times

The Copelands would feel right at home in a Noah Baumbach movie. . . . Our narrator is an omniscient ’We’ who reports the goings-on of the family with the breathless glee of an incurable gossip.

Entertainment Weekly

Like any good story writer, she had me in the first two paragraphs. . . . A treat to read. The characters are crisp and enjoyable; the narrator is smart and witty.

Iowa Press-Citizen

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