Elizabeth McCracken's Bowlaway: Love, Geneaology, and Candlepin Bowling

The following excerpts are taken from a long-form review of Bowlaway and interview with Elizabeth McCracken, both of which ran in the October 24th, 2018 issue of Shelf Awareness' Maximum Shelf. Bowlaway is on sale now wherever books are sold (and was one of the best books I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing in 2018). Excerpts reprinted here with permission.

It can be hard, in a world with so very many books, to find something truly unique to write about. But Elizabeth McCracken (Thunderstruck, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination) has done just that in Bowlaway, a sweeping family saga centered on a bowling alley. And not just any old bowling alley, but a candlepin bowling alley, and not just any old story, but a love story. "Our subject is love," writes McCracken early in the novel, "because our subject is bowling. Candlepin bowling. This is New England, and even the violence is cunning and subtle."

This sets the tone for the rest of the tale, which is itself cunning and subtle, a carefully woven and darkly humorous account of one woman, Bertha Truitt, and the strange and lasting legacy of her fascinating and too-short life.