Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Book Review: "Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets" by Jacob M. Appel
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 advocatesand 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.