Elizabeth McCracken

De Amerikaanse schrijfster Elizabeth McCracken werd geboren op 16 september 1966 in Boston. Zij bezocht de Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts en behaalde een B.A. en M.A. in Engels aan Boston University, een M.F.A. aan de Universiteit van Iowa, en een M.S. in Library Science aan Drexel University. In 2008 en 2009 woonde McCracken in Cambridge, MA, waar ze fellow was aan het Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Ze is getrouwd met de schrijver Edward Carey. Ze hebben een zoon en een dochter; een eerder kind stierf voor de geboorte, een ervaring die de basis vormde van McCracken’s memoires “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination”. McCracken bekleedt de James Michener Chair of Fiction van het Michener Center for Writers aan de Universiteit van Texas in Austin”. Zij en haar man waren eerder verbonden aan de faculteit van de Iowa Writers ‘Workshop. In 1996 werd ze genomineerd voor de National Book Award en zij won in 2002 met “Niagara Falls All Over Again” de L.L. Winship / PEN New England Award. In 2014 publiceerde ze haar eerste verhalenbundel in 20 jaar: “Thunderstruck & Other Stories”.

Uit: Niagra Falls All Over Again

“It’s like this: Rocky has just been hired at a cheese factory. He’s in charge of making the holes in the Swiss, but he doesn’t know how. I’m the foreman, I say, A hole is nothing! You’re bothering me now about nothing? (Maybe it doesn’t sound funny on the page, but Beethoven on the page is just black dots.) Rocky gets nervous, and more nervous, and downright panicked about the holes, the nothing.
Onstage with Rocky, I was handsomer, funnier. If anyone in the audience recognized the Dutch comic made over into the fierce foreman, they forgave me. The crowd was no longer a squawk box worked by a crank — turn that crank harder! — but what they were: a bunch of gorgeous people who happened to find us very, very funny. Then suddenly Rocky ad-libbed in a big way: he jumped into my arms, all the way off the floor, so I was cradling him. Oof. Like a lady scared of a mouse, and so I said, “What are you, a man or a mouse?”
“Mouse,” he said in his squeakiest voice.
“You’re a mouse in a cheese factory,” I told him. “You’re living the life of Reilly.” I didn’t put him down. I was twenty years old, I could lift anything if an audience was involved.
“I’m scared,” he said.
“Oh, Rocky,” I said dotingly. “Poor Rocky. Shall I sing you a song?”
“Uh-huh,” he said.
So I started Brahms’s lullaby.
“Not that one,” he said.
“Okay.” I tried Rockabye Baby.
“No!” He thumped me on the chest.Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody? No. Beautiful Dreamer? Worse. You Made Me Love You? Out of the question. Abba-Dabba Honeymoon?
A sly nod, a settling in.
It’s almost impossible to hold on to 180 pounds of snuggling comic, but I managed. “You better sing with me, folks,” I told the audience, “or we’ll be here all night.” So they joined in, and that night five hundred people sang Rocky Carter to sleep for the first time. That’s the bit we became famous for: Why Don’t You Sleep? We did it a million times, in the movies, on radio, on TV. Veronica Lake sang Rocky to sleep, and Dan Dailey, and Bing Crosby. Always a different ridiculous song. Rocky said it was our funniest bit. Rock was educated — Harvard, he said sometimes, Princeton others, School of the Street, he told reporters. Anyhow, he studied things. What made Chaplin great? Keaton? A kind of tenderness and need, he said, not like these jokers everywhere. Why Don’t You Sleep would be how people remembered us, he said. It would be our signature.”

Elizabeth McCracken (Boston, 16 september 1966)