Blue Has No South

Alex Epstein; Bec­ka Mara McK­ay, trans.
  • Review
By – September 8, 2011
Short-short fic­tion can be hit or miss, and read­ers of Alex Epstein’s sur­re­al minia­tures in Blue Has No South may find many of them to be head-scratch­ing miss­es. But with 116 sto­ries spread over 132 pages, it would be dif­fi­cult not to find any­thing to enjoy in Epstein’s lat­est vol­ume of sto­ries, his first to be trans­lat­ed from Hebrew to Eng­lish. But what is a sto­ry? Must it have a begin­ning, mid­dle, and end? Must there be con­flict and res­o­lu­tion? No!” says Blue Has No South, offer­ing sto­ries that read more like frag­ments (some are a sen­tence long) or, per­haps, col­lo­qui­al prose poems. Although some rhythm and sub­tle­ty is unavoid­ably lost in trans­la­tion, Epstein’s writ­ing at its best fea­tures evoca­tive imagery, such as when he writes of unrav­el­ing the braid of January’s last rain into the threads of a dozen plots.” Many of the sto­ries, how­ev­er, read like strings of non­se­quiturs held togeth­er by an enig­mat­ic title, and giv­en that some of the more mem­o­rable pieces in the col­lec­tion con­cern writ­ers or artists (“The Ded­i­ca­tion,” The Writer from Mars,” Por­trait of the Artist as an Artist”), Epstein’s read­ers might look for­ward to longer, more sat­is­fy­ing por­tray­als of the author’s inward and out­ward struggles.
Marc E. Keller grew up in Bucks Coun­ty, PA, and attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia (Philadel­phia), earn­ing degrees in Anthro­pol­o­gy and Urban Stud­ies. He has pub­lished short fic­tion in Pin­deldy­boz, Forge, The Leg­endary, and the Bucks Coun­ty Writer, among oth­ers. Cur­rent­ly he works in the devel­op­ment office at Penn, man­ag­ing prospect research.

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