By Jacob M. Appel
Jacob M. Appel’s collection of short stories is interesting and thought provoking. His bio page tells the reader that this collection is based upon his “work as a psychiatrist in New York City”, which intrigued me immediately. Fiction culled from real life experiences has a gripping realism that brings the reader into the story immediately. This instrumental to the success of a short story and Appel does it masterfully.
My reviews of short stories have historically been a brief comment about each one as well as my thoughts. I see no reason to change so below are my musings about a book I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Magic Laundry
Natural Selection: Descendants of Darwin (yes, THAT Darwin) are harboring a missing monkey. Will the free spirit of a 20-year-old be crushed by the reality of life? Her father is torn between helping her and getting that ape out if his house before the authorities or neighbors find out he is harboring a fugitive.
Enoch Arend’s One Night Stands: Over two years have passed since Alex’s wife died. It was time for him to move on, but how and where was he going? He began with a bereavement group and ended up working his way back to himself. Was the end of the journey the important part? You decide – I have and was satisfied with my conclusion.
The Ataturk of the Outer Boroughs: Omar the locksmith took to local politics like a duck to water. His transformation from shopkeeper to activist was born from the attention of a beautiful woman. Will Omar sink or swim when the issue is laid to rest?
I loved this short story. Appel’s ability to write literary prose without pretention is evident throughout this book, but especially in this story. The pictures painted with his words pulled me into the Turkish locksmith shop and took me on the journey with Omar.
Exposure: An odd man – pharmacist most days, flasher on his days off is the star of this tale. He is quirky and a little bit funny. The women he flashes are hand-picked from his past and I absolutely snickered more than once when he visits Mrs. Sproul.
This story wins my vote for the funniest of the bunch. This does not take away the cleverness of the story or minimalize the quality of Appel’s writing.
The Magic Laundry: Can washing your clothes in a specific machine in a laundromat cure illnesses, mend relationships or ruin someone’s life? Read this and find out. You may just want to purchase your own machine instead of ending up here.
The House Call: Miriam played different roles her entire life. On the stage, as a patient in simulated training for doctors and nurses and even in her “real” life, she lived in the world as a chameleon. Will she ever be Miriam? Does she want to be Miriam? Does she know how to be Miriam?
The Empress of Charcoal: After 40 years, Morton attempts to find the woman that modeled for a class he attended in college. Can he step back in time with the woman he finds?
Animal Control: Most calls to animal control are routine bordering on boring. Until the day a tiger snatches a baby. Reluctantly, Mr. Dipple rides to the rescue. His priorities might be in the right place, the reader can only hope he is an accidental hero.
This story was the perfect end of a great collection of short stories. A bit of a headshake on my part, and a yup, I could just see this story on the evening news with a Barney Fife type of animal control guy shuffling nervously from foot to foot during the interview. Kudos to Appel for his realism and fabulous collection of prose.
Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review