The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff: And Other Stories
This is a beautiful, thoughtful book of short stories by an author I feel is quite the master of the Jewish, Chicago, academic or professional older man (most are in their 70s+, reflecting on their lives). That said though, he has some wonderful insights into the wives, daughters, sons and friends of those men too. Epstein writes about the "every day" and I am always surprised at how interesting that can be. Mostly, he just makes me feel human and I enjoy both the conflict, but the genuinely good things too, that his characters do for, and feel for, each other. There are so many severely depressing, cruel short and "magic realism" (or whatever that weirdness is called) stories these days, that it is refreshing to sit and read Epstein's stories, where little kindnesses are noted and life really is a genuinely good place to be. It is not always rosy though, so there is much sadness and many of the characters are widowers. But all of the stories are wholly based in the reality of life, its ups and downs, small miracles and pressing hardships of the things we all struggle with. Anyway, I loved the stories, some of course are standouts, as in any collection, such as "My Brother Eli," "Gladrags & Kicks" and "The Philosopher and the Checkout Girl." I also was moved to tears (long time since that has happened) in the final story, "Kuperman Awaits Ecstasy" which proves it is never too late to find a passion in life, and it is wise to set aside our pre-conceived notions to maybe let that happen. My only small complaint is the themes do become a bit repetitive after a few stories, but it is a small complaint, since this is very simply, what this author knows and does very well. Highly recommended.