EINSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE: Stories
Author: Jacob M Appel
Type of Book: Paperback
Genre: Short Story Collection, Fiction, Literary Fiction
Publisher: Pressgang http://pressgang.butler.edu
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 179 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
* I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
This is a collection of short storied. I never used to be a fan of short fiction. Short stories always left me with a vague but very real feeling of dissatisfaction. Not so with Jacob Appel’s “Einstein’s Beach House”. In fact his collection is one of the very few that I have rated as deserving five stars.
In the story “Hue and Cry” readers are forced to confront a controversial and yet very real modern day issue. Your response to this story might surprise you. The author has done an amazing job of presenting opposing viewpoints without forcing the reader to choose which one to believe. He skillfully leaves the ultimate decision up to each individual reader.
When reading “La Tristesse Des Herissons” I literally laughed out loud, not once but multiple times. It illustrates just exactly how far people will go to please the person they love.
“Strings” and “Limerence” contain characters that all grown-ups can relate to. Almost everyone has either a “Lena Limpetti” or a “Jacques Krentz” in their past. Sometimes it takes looking back on the influence that certain people (who seemed to have very little significance at the time) have had on our lives to realize just how great our lives really are. We can view these people as lost chances or we can view them as people who helped shaped who we have become.
“Einstein’s Beach House” could be construed as a “Be careful what you wish for” cautionary tale about the value of the truth. This story examines both morality and ethics.
“The Rod of Asclepius” – Looking back on her memories, a woman remembers being a six year old girl visiting the hospital where her mother died. Her father wears a lab coat and has a stethoscope draped over his neck. She remembers being asked if she is “…ready to change the world, princess?” She remembers that
“At that moment, I am suddenly persuaded that the world does indeed require changing, that the entire cosmos yearns for radical transformation.”
For the next year or more she continues to attend various hospitals in various cities with her father – all in her father’s pursuit of “changing the world.”
Of course, as a six or seven year old child, she had no idea why her father visited the hospitals or exactly what he was doing.
Twenty years later when she applies to medical school it is perhaps those memories that set her on her chosen career path.
This story highlights how memories can be distorted, how both people and events can seem to be one thing when in fact they are quite another.
“Sharing The Hostage” is about a separated couple sharing custody and visitation of their pet turtle. The sad thing is that I can see this actually happening in “real life.”
“Paracosmos” is the final story in the collection. Imagine having a stranger arrive on your doorstep and announcing that he is the father of your daughter’s imaginary friend. What would you do? How would you react?
Jacob Appel has a true gift. His vivid descriptions of place are minimal in length but are still somehow able to paint an exact picture in the reader’s mind. His genius shines through mostly with his uncanny ability to get inside the heads of the characters in his stories and to take his readers with him. His writing makes each character seem less fictional and more real.
He has taken the mundane and made it feel incredibly relevant and of great importance. His stories skillfully examine issues of morality while also being highly entertaining.
These stories will stay with you long after you finish reading them. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. This is a MUST READ collection. I have become an instant fan of this author and I look forward to reading more stories by him in the future. If you haven’t yet purchased ‘Einstein’s Beach House : Stories’ I suggest you buy a copy right away. You’ll be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jacob M. Appel has published short fiction in more than 200 literary journals. His first novel, ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up’ won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and will be published by Black Lawrence in November 2013.
For more information visit http://www.jacobmappel.com
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