Book Review: ‘Einstein’s Beach House’ takes a sharp, yet witty view of life

einsteins-beach-house-coverBy Ande Jacobson

Jacob M. Appel is an interesting author. He’s passionate about his writing while also pursuing parallel careers in medicine and the law. In the writing realm, he’s not only published numerous short story collections, novels, journal articles, and essays in the press, he gives back in the form of writing webinars and seminars to help aspiring authors hone their craft. While he’s written all manner of forms, the short story is one of his favorites, and his short story collection entitled Einstein’s Beach House doesn’t disappoint. Drawing from his vast education, professional experience, and vivid imagination, he expertly weaves stories that grab the reader’s interest at the outset, and rarely slow down.

Einstein’s Beach House was first published in 2014, so it’s not quite hot off the presses. The stories provide an interesting depth and often cause the reader to reflect on them long after putting the book down. The collection presents eight stories including: Hue and Cry; La Tristesse Des Hérissons; Strings; Limerence; Einstein’s Beach House; The Rod of Asclepius; Sharing the Hostage; and Paracosmos. Each story focuses on its central characters’ closest relationships, and describes a critical turning point in their lives. Each time, an unusual situation forces them to reexamine their assumptions, and take action based on their circumstances.

Each character is believably drawn, even if their situations are sometimes improbable. Being short stories, the plots are focused and tight. As is occasionally characteristic of the short story form, a few of the endings are somewhat abrupt, though not so much so that they leave the reader dangling. Appel delves into character motivation, and drawing on his extensive knowledge of the human psyche, judiciously applies appropriate jargon for emphasis.

Hue and Cry reflects on an unlikely, but important childhood incident that shapes a young girl’s view of the world and of her parents forever.

La Tristesse Des Hérissons tracks a couple’s trials and tribulations with a challenging and unique pet – a depressed hedgehog. A distressed pet can strain a relationship while simultaneously highlighting certain facets more clearly.

Strings covers an unusual relationship triad pushing the limits of loyalty, religion, and music.

Limerence traces a successful jurist’s reflections on a childhood encounter that reemerges later in life under unexpected circumstances.

Einstein’s Beach House teases the reader with a glimpse of unexpected history and tense family dynamics.

The Rod of Asclepius is one of the tighter stories in the collection, one that shapes and skews a young girl’s view of the practice of medicine.

Sharing the Hostage is a relationship story complicated by a pet at the center of a custody dispute.

Paracosmos is an intriguing story, putting an interesting spin on friends, both real and imagined.

The entire collection is under 200 pages, so it provides a very quick, but a most enjoyable read.

Reference:
Einstein’s Beach House

Other story collections by Jacob M. Appel:
Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana
Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets
Phoning Home Essays
Scouting for the Reaper
The Magic Laundry
The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street

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