Chatting About Words With Elizabeth McCracken

June 15, 2021 § Leave a comment

Last month I (along with my colleague Ammon Shea) had the privilege of chatting with author Elizabeth McCracken about her new collection of short stories, THE SOUVENIR MUSEUM, for the Merriam-Webster Book Thing. The chat is now loaded to YouTube for those who were unable to attend.

THE SOUVENIR MUSEUM, with its stories set in places near and far, ended up being a rich subject for this project, as it is peppered with regionalisms and dialect that felt true to the character’s universes. We talked about using thesauri, the challenge of writing in first person versus third person, and using language that is true to oneself.

There was so much I didn’t get to ask! Like her use of visual puns, as when, in “The Irish Wedding,” Sadie refers to her sleeping arrangements (a sleeping bag and an air mattress) as a “disaster sandwich,” and then we read on and meet the groom and he happens to be eating a real sandwich. Plus I learned what a swazzle was.

I became a fan of Elizabeth’s work after enjoying her last novel, BOWLAWAY, and though it is not shown here, I was particularly thrilled to get to talk to her about candlepin bowling, a subject we both love dearly.


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