Category Archives: fiction review

Einstein’s Beach House – Stories by Jacob M. Appel

einsteinPaperback: 188 pages

Publisher: Pressgang (December 5, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0984940588

ISBN-13: 978-0984940585

Review by g emil reutter

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In Einstein’s Beach House, Jacob Appel, tackles family relationships, love affairs intermingled with hedgehogs, turtles and mental illness. Of Rabbis and conductors, child advocates and child molesters. These eight stories flow nicely in a matter of fact voice of the author, who no matter what the topic is, makes sense of it all, or does he?

The title story is set at the Jersey shore when a couple finds out that their home, which has been the home of the family for generations, was once Einstein’s beach house. The father, who is out of work, begins to give tours of the house at twenty five bucks a head. His wife is not approving but accepts the cash until a knock comes to the door and it is Einstein’s niece who has come a knocking. Appel is a master at character interaction, defining the family relationship between parents and children in short order.

Appel writes quirky stories, humor pops up in unexpected places and the stories flow with great energy. It is in these dysfunctional stories Appel tells us it is ok to be who you are, no matter who you are. He leaves us sometimes with joy, sometimes with broken hearts but always writes stories that keep moving even when death is just around the corner.

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You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Einsteins-Beach-House-Jacob-Appel/dp/0984940588/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417220259&sr=1-1&keywords=einsteins%27s+beach+house+by+jacob+m+appel

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g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

 

Celebrity Chekhov By Ben Greenman

chekcoverPaperback: 205 pages

Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 5, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0061990493

ISBN-13: 978-0061990496

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Reviewed by Stephen Page.

The first thing a reader may think when he picks up this book and begins reading it is “why?”  I say “why not?”  In Celebrity Chekov Ben Greenman updates a selection of Anton Chekhov’s short stories and replaces the characters in the stories with contemporary celebrities. Is this satirical? Yes. Funny? Hilarious.  Greenman and Chekhov’s talents as writers can account for all this. Greenman doesn’t just update the stories and replace this character for that character—Greenman rewrites the stories, re-establishes them, revives them.  Why not bring to the present great short stories from the past?  People have been updating Shakespeare on stage and on film, quite successfully I might add, for decades, if not longer. And Shakespeare is supposed to be, quote, “timeless” and “immortal,” as is Chekhov.  Yes, some great writing does wear longer than other writing, due to the ability of the author to create recognizable characters drawn from inherited human behavior, and some writing stays popular due to the writer’s ability to create empathic situations created by said characters, but I say nothing is immortal or timeless.  Consider just how many years ago Shakespeare lived, or even how many ago Chekhov lived, and compare those numbers with how long ago modern Homo sapiens first appeared on earth, and compare that amount of time with how long the earth has been around, and compare that amount of time with how long the universe has been around, and compare that to.  .  .  well, you get it. Right?   Finally has anyone reading this taught high school or had a teenager in his or her home?  How many of those teenagers love to see a Shakespearean play set in Shakespearean settings? Not many, and of course it depends on their socialization, and, well, furthermore . . . getting back to my main point, “why not?”

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You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Celebrity-Chekhov-Stories-Anton-P-S/dp/B005DI9VUE

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stephen-in-the-countryStephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan.  There he worked in factories, gasoline stations, and steel-cutting shops.  He always longed for a vocation associated with nature.  He now lives in Argentina, teaches literature, ranches, and spends time with his family. http://stephenmpage.wordpress.com/

 

My Glass Of Wine by Kiriti Sengupta

my glass of winePaperback: 70 pages
Publisher: Author’s Empire Publication, India (April 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8192861902
ISBN-13: 978-8192861906
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Reviewed by Shernaz Wadia
 
As I held Dr. Kiriti Sengupta’s little book in my hand for the first time, my instant reaction was, “Oh, this shouldn’t be too time-consuming.” I was right in that it took me just a few hours to read it but it is going to take much longer to savour the delight of the wine in it – the heady wine of love and spirituality; of a curious, contemplative and open mind; a large accepting heart – all embodied in the simple, direct words of the writer that make you enjoy and revel in this intoxicating cocktail of prose and poetry. A delightful experience as we take sips from his glass! 
 
It has already been mentioned by others that this book cannot be pigeonholed. As he says in the preface “When I wrote the manuscript I deliberately wrote down what came into my mind. I never considered what genre my book would fit into.” To brand it would be to diminish it. It is a distillation of some momentous pieces…autobiographical word snapshots, each followed by a poem. This book is Kiriti’s humble attempt to take poetry to all book lovers so that it can ‘reach its pinnacle again’. With great simplicity he tackles issues of love, spirituality, relationships, the world and nature as he perceives them and brushes them with his poetic sensibility.
 
He cracks open little drawers and lets us peek into some uplifting moments of his life. The initial glimpse is into his first date with his future wife Bhaswati, which began on a slightly comical note that for him turned into the stepping stone of his literary journey.  His wife to-be was quite amused when she asked him about a Rabindranath Tagore novel and he replied that he didn’t read poetry at all! Because the novel was “Shesher Kobita”! This honest revelation by Dr. Sengupta at the start of the book immediately endears him to his readers and keeps charming them till the end.
 
The poet Kiriti was born from the agony of a painful relationship with a friend to whom he addressed his first poem in Bengali. While he says that with all its innumerable functions and facets poetry should also entertain, he believes that true poetry arises out of total consumption of one’s being.
 
Consumption
 
Consumed time/ like an infant consuming
milk; inevitable/ it remains.
Killed essence of
the eternal soul; and consumed,
Essentially I remain…
 
The second chapter from which the book takes its title shows us another side of Kiriti as he takes us along on a sacred trek. He is gentle but forthright in the weaving of this tale. We get whiffs of the wine that he imbibes spiritually and are given a peep into that part of his life which was experimental and experiential, culminating into the insightful observation that ‘red’- the colour of some wines and of blood – is divinely symbolic in Christianity, Tantric Hinduism and Islam.  Whereas in Christianity, (to which he received formal baptism after the priest was convinced that he had attained spiritual baptism) ‘red wine’ is representative of Jesus’ godly blood sacrificed for mortals; Tantrics also use alcoholic beverages in their rituals and hold ‘red’ to be the colour of divine power. And so their attire is blood red in hue. With these he compares the Islamic ritual of animal sacrifice – ‘Qurbani’ – and draws the conclusion that ‘the elements of blood, power, alcohol and red (are) associated intimately with divinity”.  “Blood Red”, the poem at the end of the chapter is a summation of this belief.  The poetic vision he lends to his experiences and deep meditation on things we take for granted in our indifferent stride, shakes up our mental lethargy and prods us to reflect intensely on such matters. 
 
From the sphere of spirituality, we go into an investigation of the word “Bhaiya” – meaning older brother – a tag given to him by his elder sister! From there onto his take on ‘name’ with which he plays a word game, replacing ‘n’ with ‘f’ and then with ‘g’. He muses that though many Indians are named after gods and goddesses, ruefully few imbibe the virtues of their namesakes – “Religion has left its profound mark in the psyche of Indians, but has failed to alter their behavioural pattern.”
 
Namesake
Whispers the tale fo your character,
colour and its fragrance merge to call it/ a Rose.
A lot matters, /if you remember/ the name…
 
In the next chapter, Southern Affiliation he talks of his association with the southern city of Chennai (Madras), whose charms have bitten him affectionately. His affiliation is further enhanced by Mr. Atreya Sarma, to whom he devotes a whole paragraph and dedicates the poem “Clarity”.
 
“Rains” is an allusion to situations that bewilder and hurt him; those thoughts, crowds, disciplines in which he tends to get totally drenched. These ‘rains’ have inspired poems from his haemorrhaging heart. His scientifically trained mind believes that love is “a strong cerebral affair.” It is the brain that rules the heart he feels and yet he says love is “a wonderful experience that enables you to feel your loved inside of you.”  How beautiful is that!
 
“My Master and the Cover” is the most significant chapter.  He talks about his initiation into Kriyayoga by his beloved master; about Spiritual awakening through the rising Kundalini – the Divine Feminine force – whereby an aspirant experiences a ‘winy trance’.  In the glow of his awakening he also tries to justify the cover design as substantiating Yoga in the light of literature, though there could be many different interpretations, as the designer refuses to explain his creation. But even as he exults in his Awakening he laments the moral degradation of the world and is grateful for his Master who helps him uncover the mysteries of life.
 
I
As identical as ‘I’/through the slice of my sigh.
Like the sky; where the stars shine bright and/ the Sun ‘I’.
 
This book ‘stirs’ the reader to arouse his sleeping Kundali
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You can check out the book here:
 
 
Shernaz-Wadia3 Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.

 

 

Kafka at Rudolf Steiner’s by Rosalind Palermo Stevenson

kafkaPaperback: 23 pages

Publisher: Rain Mountain Press; First Edition edition (March 31, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0989705196

ISBN-13: 978-0989705196

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Review by: Russell Reece

From the opening paragraph you will know this book is something special.

Rosalind Palermo Stevenson has used two actual incidents in the life of the legendary existentialist writer, Franz Kafka, to frame this memorable work of fiction. In March of 1911, Kafka visited the mystical philosopher, Rudolf Steiner in Prague. There, in Stevenson’s story, we encounter a typical Kafka conundrum: “I was faced with a dilemma: it was where to place the hat I had removed from my head.” Kafka’s resolution gives us our first insight into the man and sets the tone of what’s to follow. This visit to Steiner and Steiner’s writings and philosophy are laced throughout the main story of Kafka’s 1913 stay at the von Hartungen sanatorium in Riva where he actually met and fell in love with a young Christian woman he calls, W.

Throughout this short volume (20 pages) the author intersperses the real and the imagined to create an early 20th century dreamscape. Stevenson’s spare and poetic prose – “I have put up the oars so we can drift, we are the only boaters on the lake, drifting; imperceptible movement…” – her masterful use of sentence fragments, and her wonderful descriptions – a folded shawl, oars that sit stiffly at the bottom of a boat – swept me up in this story and kept me there to the end.

There’s a lot to get into here. First and foremost is the heartwarming relationship between Kafka and W, a mutual love confined by both the social mores of the day – “The desire to let my cheek come to rest against hers” – and Kafka’s struggle between his outward life and his internal, self-reflective interests. The story is a wonderful tribute to Franz Kafka. You know and like this man in spite of his dark perspective and feelings of being an outsider. The story also foreshadows the evil that will soon overrun Europe and ultimately result in the Holocaust.

I encourage you to take an hour, find a quiet place and sit down and read this jewel of a book. Then read it again. You will be glad you did.

You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Rudolf-Steiners-Rosalind-Palermo- 

russRussell Reece is a fiction editor for The Fox Chase Review and can be found in Delaware or here: http://www.russellreece.com/

Winter 2014 edition of The Fox Chase Review now on line

fcrmasthead2011-rgb-for-print-docs.

The Winter 2014 edition of The Fox Chase Review is now available for you reading pleasure. Please note our new web home address: www.thefoxchasereview.org . This edition features:

Poetry by: Jonal Abellanosa, Nathalie Anderson, Ashley Elizabeth-Best, Lauren Camp, Phillip Dacey, Dennis Daly, Joshua Gray, Lisa Lewis, Rodger Lowenthal, Tom Mallouck, Ellen Peckham, Russell Reece, Rebecca Schumedja, John Timpane and Frank Wilson.

Fiction by:  Natalia Cherjovsky, Louise Halvardsson,Jen Michalski, Lester Mobley, Dawn Sperber, George Wyelsol and Chad Willenborg

The Editors

www.thefoxchasereview.org

The Dirty Life By Kristin Kimball

the Dirty Life book CvrPublisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416551611
ISBN-13: 978-1416551614
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Reviewed by Stephen Page
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            A successful freelance writer with a degree from Harvard lives on the trendy Upper East Side of New York (OK, so she lives in a walkup across the street form the Hells Angels main headquarters building—but the area is becoming popular for aging preppies, so rent and property prices are rising).   She gets a hack job from a magazine editor to drive out to small plot of land just past the Big Apple’s suburbs to interview an educated neo-hippie who is running an organic farm.  The man avoids her when he can, gives her errands to do when he can’t, and just generally bosses her around and treats her like trash for three days, until she finally stands her ground and corners him as he is running from one of his thousand daily chores to another of his thousand daily chores, and she demands as she points a finger at him, “Look, are you going to give me the interview or not?”  He stops in his tracks, chuckles, looks deeply and respectfully into her eyes, and says “yes.”  In the ensuing interview, while they are pulling the entrails out of a freshly slaughtered pig, she falls in love with him and he falls in love with her.  For the next several years they build a life together while struggling to keep an organic farm viable.
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            In the memoir Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball shows the reader that “pastoral” and “bucolic” have different connotations—and that neither word is synonymous with “idyllic.”  Yet, for Ms. Kimball and her fiancé, privilege is perspective.  “Wealth” and “success” are subjective words which cannot be measured in meaning with a pop-culture ruler, but rather with how one lives life.
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            Once you get past the first page of romance-novel description, The Dirty Life is an outstandingly written book.  If you are like me, when I am reading a book that I love, whether it be for its content, plot, voice, characters, or style (and in this case, all of the preceding), you don’t want to finish the book.  When you find yourself arriving toward the end, perhaps the last fifth of the book, you procrastinate, continually finding excuses to not read more than a few pages at a time because you don’t want the beauty of the story or the magic of the story telling to end.  This is one of those books.
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Check out the book here:
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kimballkristin author photoAbout Kristin Kimball:
I was born in 1971, and grew up in central New York. I graduated from Harvard in 1994, then moved to New York City, where I worked at a literary agency, taught creative writing, and freelanced for magazines and travel guides. In 2002, I interviewed a wingnut farmer named Mark, and took more than a professional interest in both him and his vocation. We founded Essex Farm together in 2004 – the world’s first full-diet CSA, as far as we know – and I’ve been professionally dirty ever since. Mark and I have two daughters, and I have three great jobs: mother, farmer, and writer. I stink at returning email. Please contact Simon& Schuster Speakers Bureau for information on talks and appearances.

Since the publication of The Dirty Life, I’ve written for O Magazine about what it’s like to change your life completely; for Vogue on physical work, and for Gourmet Live on all sorts of farm and food related subjects (The Pigs Are Alright, A Corny Story, Tales of Terroir, Three Things Every Ethical Eater Needs To Know). Food & Wine featured us here, the Burlington Free Press here, and for the francophones out there, Alix Girod de l’Ain Laffont wrote about us here, in French Elle.
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Stephen Page in front of wheat photoStephen Page was recently ranching and farming during a sabbatical from teaching world literature. He loved learning the cow-to-calf and the seed-to-harvest businesses even though he discovered first-hand that bucolic and pastoral are not synonymous with idyllic. He did however, after a long debate with the owner of the ranch, manage to keep a portion of the land fallow at all times as a moral obligation to the people of the world’s people and the Earth’s environment.

Blossom By Donigan Merritt

Blossom Book CoverHardcover: 404 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse (August 17, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1463441398
ISBN-13: 978-1463441395
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Reviewed By Stephen Page
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So, I’m in Brazzaville, right? And I’m in this canoe, and this local is paddling me up the river between Congo and Zaire, when all of a sudden this hippo surfaces right next to the canoe, and then another surfaces, and another, and I think I’m gonna die, right, and one of the hippos opens his mouth right next to my elbow, and I stand up and I rip my cell phone from its holster to call home to tell Mom I love her, but when I look down at the phone I notice it’s connected to the net and it’s opened to this webpage entitled Random Literary Blogging, and there’s this blurb about a book entitled Blossom, and I start reading it and I forget about the hippos, and everything is fine, and I’m floating up the river right past those hippos and I’m feeling great and the reading is interesting, and the blurb has a link to read a preview of the novel, and I’m reading that and I’m still floating up the river and I’m still standing up in the canoe and I discover that Blossom is a book concerning the injustices of racial prejudice, and that if takes place in Arkansas, and that reading the story makes me feel that literature is still alive, that the novel is not dead, so I order a copy of the book on-line and as soon as I press the “buy” button, the local paddling the canoe turns the canoe hard to the right toward the shore and rams into the muddy bank and I am flung forward and I do a flip in the air but I land on my feet in thick mud and look back at the local who was padding the canoe but he just smiles and points behind me so I turn around and trudge my way up this slippery plant-overgrown trail and find my friend, who works with orphaned gorillas, waiting for me at the edge of the jungle and we go off to save some orphans. Oh, yes, I bought the Kindle version of the book, but I noticed I could have purchased the hardcover or softcover versions also.
Colonia, UruguayDonigan Merritt was born in southwest Arkansas in 1945, and left home at the age of seventeen. He has worked as a journalist, scuba diver, fishing boat captain, sailing instructor, and university professor. He has a BA and MA degree in philosophy; the BA is with Honors from Simpson College, the MA is from the Claremont Graduate School. He also has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers Workshop. His first novel, One Easy Piece, was published by Coward-McCann in 1981. Since then, he has published seven novels, the most recent: “The Love Story of Paul Collins,” published by B&B Books, 2012. Mr. Merritt is currently living in Mexico City
Donigan Merritt’s webpage: Donigan Merritt.
Stephn Page with Congolese Gorilla OrphanStephen Page holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College.  He is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions.  His Book Reviews have appeared regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald, Gently Read Literature, Classic Book Club, and the Fox Chase Review.  He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence with stipend from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Writer Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He lived in the Congo for one year.