Leslie gave me When the Messenger is Hot a couple of years ago after she met Elizabeth Crane. Sixteen short stories of brittleness and strength, hope in spite of damage, each one funny and “never self-indulgent or whiny” (dailycandy.com). All of Crane’s protagonists have a touch of the barking mad about them, and it’s easy to identify with them. Graceful touches of magical realism somehow make her stories even more real. My favorite story is Privacy and Coffee, a delicate and beautiful urban fairy tale of isolation and coping with loss. Hilarious and lovely.