Elizabeth McCracken is the recipient of the Harold Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the PEN/Winship Award. She has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, and Michener foundation, the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was also honored as one of Granta's 20 Best Writers Under 40.
An act is a kind of marriage, says Mike Sharp, the straight man of the popular comedy team of Carter and Sharp in this novel set as his memoir. And so it is. Rocky Carter and Mike Sharp get together in the late 1920s just as vaudeville is beginning to fade. They manage to parlay their successful stage act into a long-running, if artistically unremarkable, movie career and later find some success in early television. Along with the ups and downs of their show business careers, McCracken's protagonist chronicles the changes in their private livesnotably the self-destructive Rocky's many marriages and heavy drinking set against Mike's own more stable marriage to Jessica, a dancer he meets on a trip back to his Iowa hometown. McCracken, whose first novel, The Giant's House, was a National Book Award finalist, has written a compelling and unexpectedly tender love story about the relationship between partners that is also a paean to an era of American popular entertainment. Recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/01.]Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Any doubts that McCracken could not equal the inventiveness, wit and quirky imagination of her first novel, The Giant's House, will be dispelled by this relentlessly eventful, rollickingly funny and heartwarming narrative. Her story about a pair of vaudeville comedians explores a symbiotic relationship in vigorous, expressive prose. Narrator Mose Sharp relates his life from childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, to old age in Hollywood in a distinctive, mordantly humorous voice. Pierced with remorse at the accidental death of his beloved sister, Hattie, 16-year-old Mose runs away from his gentle father and five remaining sisters to join the vaudeville circuit that he and Hattie had dreamed about. Later, down on his luck, he's taken under the wing of a plump comic, Rocky Carter, and they go on to become the famous team of Carter and Sharp. Though Mose is cast as a stern professor, and Rocky as the fat and hapless fall guy, in real life Rocky takes all the credit and a larger share of their income, and Mose is endlessly forgiving of Rocky's self-destructive behavior. In depicting the mingled love and resentment felt by both men, McCracken plumbs the soul of a relationship. She also chronicles the dying years of vaudeville with a tolerant eye for its desperate exuberance, and, when Carter and Sharp move on to Hollywood, the slaphappy 1940s movie industry. As years pass, Mose finds a wife, fathers children and grows rich, but his troubled partnership with Rocky remains the core of his existence. In its delicate balance of black humor, irony and pathos, this novel is as exhilarating as the waters of Niagara, its flow mimicking the tumultuous rush of time. Agent, Henry Dunow. (On-sale: Aug. 7) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Any doubts that McCracken could not equal the inventiveness, wit and quirky imagination of her first novel, The Giant's House, will be dispelled by this relentlessly eventful, rollickingly funny and heartwarming narrative. In its delicate balance of black humor, irony and pathos, this novel is as exhilarating as the waters of Niagara, its flow mimicking the tumultuous rush of time."-Publishers Weekly