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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

  

Lunar Savings Time

by
Alex Epstein


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Lunar Savings Time



Title: Lunar Savings Time
Author: Alex Epstein
Genre: Stories
Written: 2010 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 118 pages
Original in: Hebrew
Availability: Lunar Savings Time - US
Lunar Savings Time - UK
Lunar Savings Time - Canada
Lunar Savings Time - India
  • Hebrew title: קיצורי דרך הביתה
  • Translated by Becka Mara McKay

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Our Assessment:

B : fairly clever, entertaining variety

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       Lunar Savings Time is, like Alex Epstein's earlier collection Blue Has No South, a volume of about a hundred short pieces, ranging from stories that consist of a single short line ("And the last man in the world is writing a novel.") to a few that are several pages long.
       Aside from a few pieces that basically amount to anecdotes, the stories generally don't have conventional story-arcs: an opening premise is equally likely to lead Epstein off on a tangent (or are series of them) or immediately be inverted; so, for example, the story titled 'How the iPad Saved the Short Story' begins: "The truth of the matter is that the iPad did not save the short story", and then moves on to describing a man jumping to his death from a building (a plunge which turns out also not to be quite as straightforward as one might expect).
       Epstein frequently subverts expectations -- and does so blatantly, as if to remind the reader that everything is uncertain; the story 'Gravity', for example, begins:

My grandmother Rosa -- I've changed a few details in this story -- kissed Yuri Gagarin in 1961 in an elevator in Moscow. Which is to say, this wasn't Gagarin, this wasn't in an elevator, and above all in 1961 my grandmother was already living in St.Petersburg.
       Recurring themes help give the collection a firmer feel: among the concepts and figures Epstein repeatedly weaves into the stories are time-travel (and teleportation), the last man on earth, angels, writing, Jewish and personal history; there are also references to many familiar writers, including Borges, Kharms, and Kafka.
       Among the few almost conventional stories is the longest (at nearly four pages), 'Franz Kafka, the Lost Years', which imagines Kafka recovering from illness in 1924 (rather than dying, as he actually did) and then sketches out how the next four decades of his life might have unfolded.
       Epstein offers a variety of (often cryptic) games with his stories, occasionally with little obvious connection between the parts of the piece; a succinct example is:
Theory of Relativity

In the table of contents this story comes before its predecessor. The student asked the Zen master: "Can you tie your shoes with one hand ?" He answered: "If I'm in a real hurry."
       (And, yes, the table of contents does, indeed, list this story before its predecessor.)
       These stories are small, playful and occasionally intense bursts. Only some are fully rounded off -- having anything that might be considered a beginning and an end -- but many that tease with their lack of any specific focus are appealingly provocative.
       Lunar Savings Time is quite enjoyable, and a nice little volume to dip into.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 May 2011

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Links:

Lunar Savings Time: Reviews: Alex Epstein: Other books by Alex Epstein under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Alex Epstein (אלכס אפשטיין) was born in Leningrad, and emigrated to Israel in 1980.

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© 2011 the complete review

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