A quick and easy read full of some great short stories. I really enjoyed Jacob M. Appel’s writing style. He’s witty, concise, and polished. It’s obvious he’s been writing short stories for a while by the simple and effective ways he delivers the narratives.
The first two stories (Hue and Cry and La Tristesse Des Hérissons) had glimmers of greatness, but were ultimately a little disappointing. The rest of the collection really picked up steam though. I connected with the Rabbi protagonist in Strings plagued by an obnoxious ex-boyfriend. Limerence could have easily been doomed by its white guy protagonist and his teenage manic pixie dream girl idol, but I was pleasantly surprised by the nuance Appel used to craft the story. Einstein’s Beach House was a wild ride of emotions. Thinking about it days later still gets me all riled up. Finishing the collection is Paracosmos which was a great little story, but it was a bit of a tonal departure from the rest of the collection. This weird, twisting tale is a dollop of magical realism that took my brain on a crazy journey. I’d like to see what Jacob M. Appel could do with an entire collection devoted to the genre.
My favorite story, The Rod of Asclepius, was AMAZING. Full stop. One of the best short stories I’ve ever read. It is very tightly plotted so every time you think you have a handle on the setting and characters, you get new information that transforms the entire story. It’s everything you could wish for in a short story.
— Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for a fair and honest review —