Alex Epstein, master of the miniature story, poses metaphysical puzzles with every captivating story, introducing his readers to the truly wondrous. He integrates facts from the past and present with basic fantasy, myth and legend and structures the occurrences according to a set of dream-world rules. His stories depict a colorful carnival of characters and places like those in The Tales of the Arabian Nights. The volume includes an impressive menagerie of stories -- of a right-wing member of the Israeli Knesset; of a serial killer in Tebelisi, Georgia; of an Inca king; of a gas station attendant who looks like a now deceased famous Israeli singer; of Odysseus; of Leonardo di Vinci; of Jesus; of Rudolph Hess; of a soldier girl who hitched a ride. Epstein is like a curious tourist, who finds himself in far away places such as China, Mauritius and Siberia. He wanders through the alleys of modern day Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, while just as easily visiting the Jerusalem of the Biblical days, 16th century Valencia, and the city of Tzor during the Lebanese War. Anything and everything can and does happen in Epstein’s world -- an old woman from Kansas City goes to the park to feed the pigeons and finds herself a few hours later in a police station in Israel; a well-educated English gentleman from the 13th century speaks to Pope Clemens the VII about the Statue of Liberty; and in September, 1943 a flying saucer lands at the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. The camp guards are willing to swear they saw it.
Epstein’s short stories are sometimes so delicate and aquarelle-like, and at others, as if hewn from stone... When you are attuned to them they reveal the joy of listening to a special note.
Throughout the book Epstein plants pieces of invented information, imaginary embarkations presented as facts. Readers with investigative drive will enjoy determining the compass points they must find within the author’s coordinates.
These stories are swallowed as swiftly as caviar at an especially refined cocktail party.
Critic Albert Suissa