Introduction to Jill McCorkle

I read an excerpt that I really liked on Writer’s Almanac from a short story by Jill McCorkle. Her collection is called Creatures of Habit, and here’s the excerpt:

We used to all come outside when the streetlights came on and prowl the neighborhood in a pack, a herd of kids on banana-seat bikes and minibikes. The grown-ups looked so silly framed in their living-room and kitchen windows. They complained about their days and sighed deep sighs of depression and loss. They talked about how spoiled and lucky children were these days. We will never be that way, we said, we will never say those things.

Isn’t that a great passage?

Here is what Amazon says about the collection:

The interconnected stories follow the arc of a life span, beginning with the memory of a summer evening in 1970 in smalltown North Carolina. Running in a pack, the neighborhood children follow the mosquito truck and get high on its fumes, talk about murder and suicide, and swim clandestinely in a motel pool. The way these seventh graders deal with their impulses and fears foreshadows their way of handling life’s crises as adults. Their candid voices, the foundation of any McCorkle fiction, are heard in the remaining 11 stories. In "Snipe," six-year-old Caroline realizes how vulnerable her bullying older brother is. "Chickens" features another unmasking, this one performed by the narrator, a woman on her honeymoon with perhaps the wrong man. In "Hominids," the husbands duke it out for the role of Alpha Male at a reunion, while the wives retreat to the kitchen. This is all background to the narrator’s recollection of her sympathetic reaction to a model of Lucy at the science museum. McCorkle’s two chief strengths are her earthiness and her command of narrative voices, and she is at the top of her game here. The stories are at once intricate and compulsively readable, redolent of the small failures and triumphs of human life.

McCorkle also wrote The Cheerleader, which is about "a girl who knows what to be and how to be it-straight-A student, cheerleader, May Queen, popular and cute and virginal, and in perfect control. But halfway through her first year in college in the early seventies, her carefully normal life explodes and she comes completely undone. In The Cheerleader, Jo Spencer looks back, as if she were watching reruns of old syndicated TV shows, to figure out what happened."

And here’s another collection of stories: Crash Diet. From Amazon:

In this peppery, potent collection, 11 memorable women, ranging from high school student to retiree, confide details of troubled relationships. Without fail, their voices, hopes and sorrows hit the mark; it’s easy to empathize with them and to uneasily recall moments when our own lives have mirrored theirs. Optimism and sorrow are here in equal measure: the title story’s chronic dieter, abandoned by her husband, surprises herself by coping with marital crisis and unwittingly losing weight. The selective, feisty narrator of "Man Watcher" admits that her search for a male partner may be a "snipe hunt," the undeniably odd main character of "Comparison Shopping" learns with dismay that a couple on The New Newlywed Game consider her their "weirdest friend," and the teenage heroine of "Carnival Lights" discovers that the hottest gossip in town is about her boyfriend’s mom. In the wrenching "Departures," an inconsolable widow spends time utterly alone in busy airports and malls, and in "Waiting for Hard Times to End," a girl worries when an expected postcard from her freewheeling, fearless older sister fails to arrive. McCorkle imbues her capable women with extraordinary depth and dimension, and she resolves their situations with enchanting grace and wit.

How have I never heard of this author before? Have any of you read anything by Jill McCorkle before?