Blue Has No South: Stories

Alex Epstein, trans. from the Hebrew by Becka Mara McKay, Interlink/Clockroot, $15 paper (142p) ISBN 978-1-56656-806-7
The title gives a strong indication of what to expect from this flash fiction collection from Israeli author Epstein. With more than 100 short-short stories (many no longer than a few lines), there's a frenetic buzz of activity, with recurring themes including chess, mythology, rain, angels, suicide, animals, muses, time machines, tragic love, aging, and painting, all sewn together in a Borges-meets-Kafka style. Some pieces slip into metanarrative, as with "Gibraltar, a Love Story," a brief bit in which the author comments on the flaws in his tale about an elephant escaped from a zoo. Other pieces don't tell stories at all, such as "The Flawed Symmetry of Romeo and Juliet," which offers a critique of "the only lovers who see each other dead." Often it isn't the scraps of story that make the pieces work as much as the poetic language, as in a story involving the murder of a chess-playing writer. These deceptively simple snapshots certainly can deliver on a fast reading, but slow, close attention reveals layers of thought and complexity. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/31/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
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