The most recent Goodreads giveaway that this pedometer geek read was a collection of short stories by Jacob M. Appel. Einstein’s Beach House is the first of his books that this reader had the privilege of reading, but suspect it won’t the last as his writing varies between short story collections, essays, and novels. This is the extended review.
Einstein’s Beach House
by Jacob M. Appel
Published by Pressgang, 2014
Eight short stories make up the collection that is Appel’s Einstein’s Beach House. Each of the stories have been previously published in various journals and anthologies such as Nimrod, the Gettysburg Review, and Sonora Review. The book also won the Pressgang Prize in 2013.
As the back cover blurb states, “A couple adopts a depressed hedgehog; a stranger shows up, claiming to be the father of a girl’s imaginary friend; a woman kidnaps her ex-husband’s turtle; a family is evicted from their home, but was it every really theirs? Heartbreaking and hilarious, the eight stories examine how we deceive ourselves and others, all to arrive at something far more real.”
Without giving away any spoilers, other than what the blurb indicated, these stories focus on characters who deal with issues in their lives, no matter how quirky the issue may first appear (but then this reader likes quirky). Each story is independent from the others so that each can be read at one’s leisure, picking and choosing at will. The characters are all different; each plot completely different, too, but each story has some humor (okay, laugh out loud moments are sprinkled liberally throughout the book) as well as endings that resonate long after the story is complete.
All of the individual stories make for interesting reading, and there were several that were particular personal favorites. Among them were depressed hedgehogs (who knew?) to the real-life fathers of invisible playmates to doctors without “borders” to a teen boy’s fixation with a girl to the title story itself. Yet all of the eight short stories are worth reading.
Personally, this pedometer geek looks forward to reading other books written by this author. Next time, perhaps, one of his novels.