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.