Lunar Sav­ings Time

Alex Epstein; Bec­ka Mara McK­ay, trans.
  • Review
By – October 31, 2011

Lunar Sav­ings Time, Alex Epstein’s exhil­a­rat­ing and provoca­tive new col­lec­tion of short short fic­tion, is made up of nine­ty-nine sto­ries, which range in length from a sin­gle short line to four pages. Their sub­jects include, among oth­er things, angels, astron­o­my, time-trav­el, myths, mino­taurs, libraries, the Tro­jan War, Zen mas­ters, beg­gars, and ghosts. 

Epstein’s lan­guage is poised on the thin line between poet­ry and prose. On the Pow­er of Russ­ian Lit­er­a­ture,” the first sto­ry in the col­lec­tion, begins: My great-grand­moth­er once shut a book by Tol­stoy so hard that a spark came from its pages, and the spark climbed up the cur­tains, and ignit­ed a fire, and our sum­mer house went up in flames.” 

The sto­ries run the gamut from fun­ny and ten­der to enig­mat­ic, wild, and bizarre. In Kaf­ka, The Lost Years,” Epstein imag­ines four addi­tion­al decades of Kafka’s life, had he not suc­cumbed to tuber­cu­lo­sis at forty, in which Kaf­ka sur­vives the Holo­caust, emi­grates to Pales­tine, Hebraizes his name, works part-time at a bank, encoun­ters Max Brod, lis­tens to Bach in the evenings, and with great plea­sure reads Agnon.” 

Alex Epstein, who was award­ed the 2003 Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize for Lit­er­a­ture, was born in St. Peters­burg and came to Israel as a child. He is the author of three short sto­ry col­lec­tions and three novels.

Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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