In Elizabeth Crane's first book, When the Messenger is Hot
, her character's first dates end with gifts of Blow Pops and refrigerator magnets, their apartments are haunted by the ghosts of babies, and their recently deceased mothers reincarnate and fall madly in love with Alan Thicke.
Despite these fantastic diversions, Crane's real skill lies in her celebration of customary moments, capturing the remarkable details of first dates, death, relationships and jobs. Her narrator is the silent monologue that runs through all our heads during these moments
Even though the book was released in 2003, and there aren't a ton of explicit Chicago moments, many of the stories feel like a postcard of Wicker Park when Liz Phair was still exiled on Division Street, and before Starbucks and Urban Outfitters bumped the thrift stores out of business and sent the tattooed set West to Humboldt Park.
Unbound by the short story, Crane's been keeping a blog "standBy Bert" at elizabethcrane.com, where she muses about her lack of friends on Myspace while simultaneously skewering and empathizing with the latest travails of Britney Spears,
Crane also released a new story collect this summer, entitled All This Heavenly Glory.
Tell us a little bit about your latest work.
It's a series of linked stories about a woman who, well, she has some problems, and she sort of gets it together kind of a little later than most people. Some of the stories take place in her childhood growing up in New York. I also have my hand in quite a few pies these days—blogging, writing a little more non-fiction for anthologies and such, and I'll also be writing a column in "Punk Planet."
Tell us about your creative process.
It's sort of random. Theoretically I prefer writing in the mornings, but I'm not always always writing. I don't try to force it to happen, but on the other hand, I'd rather sit down and write something that isn't necessarily perfect just to keep a momentum going.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to read, I also do a lot of crafty stuff. Some sewing, lately embroideries. I have some for sale on etsy.com!
Greatest thing you'd miss about Chicago if you had to move back to New York City?
I seriously wouldn't even begin to know how to answer this question with any brevity. I'm simply in love with Chicago. Romantically. I would marry it, if I could, but I'm already married.
Got any favorite local hangouts?
I'm loving the Alliance Bakery and Cafe on Division Street these days.
Who else should we be reading?
Just me. Just kidding. You should be reading everything by George Saunders, and check out Etgar Keret and Laurie Colwin and Tod Goldberg. And Jill Soloway. And Joe Meno. And Gary Lutz is very weird and cool. That should get you started.