Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: "Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets" by Jacob M. Appel

You know when you read a book by an author you've never heard of before, and you love it so much, but when you read another book by the same person you're disappointed? I was utterly captivated by Jacob Appel's quirky, moving story collection, Einstein's Beach House, but I wondered if Appel's charm would be apparent in his newest collection, Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets, or whether the quirkiness would become cloying.

I'm pleased to say that this new collection is equally as good, and that once again, I am so dazzled by Appel's talent. These stories are unlike many I've read, but they're not outlandish; each is full of so much heart and emotion and incredibly unforgettable characters. This is a brief but powerful collection that left me wanting more.

Some of my favorite stories in the collection include "Invasive Species," in which a woman struggles with the impending death of her young daughter, and tries to decide whether the romantic attention of her next-door neighbor is a good thing; "Phoebe with Impending Frost," which follows an expert in climate change as he tries to deal with the return of his high school crush amidst a true climate crisis; "The Resurrection Bakeoff," in which a man is worried that one of his darkest secrets will be revealed to his wife before she dies; and "Measures of Sorrow," about a graduate student who teaches a cab driver about everything he knows so he can woo a woman he's attracted to.

And then there's the amazing title story, in which an alien masquerading as a Latvian immigrant in Birmingham, Alabama, keeps the peace between pro-life and pro-choice advocates—and finds himself falling in love.

I don't know why Jacob Appel isn't a household name, because the way he writes, the way he weaves emotion and humor and heart and makes you think, deserves more recognition. These stories pack a punch, and will stick in your mind, and you'll want to tell everyone you know about them.

No comments:

Post a Comment