In the short story, “Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry,” Elizabeth McCracken introduces a larger-than-life character, Aunt Helen Beck, a woman in her eighties who has traveled the country for most of her life, showing up at the homes of distant relatives who have only vaguely heard of her, if they have at all. She arrives at an island in Seattle’s Puget Sound to stay with a great nephew and his wife. In the course of her visit, they learn to put up with the trials of having their lives invaded by an outspoken aged relative. At the same time, their suspicions grow that she is actually not who she says she is. Each character is rendered imaginatively as a familiar type, but also as a unique individual. McCracken tells the story with an unerring eye for details and a subtle sense of humor that recognizes the underlying strangeness of ordinary modern life.
“Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry” was published in McCracken’s 1993 short story collection of the same name. This was her first story collection, published when the author was just a few years out of college, and it helped to establish McCracken as one of the most gifted young writers of her generation.