Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff and Other Stories by Joseph Epstein

Tender, wry and subtly told, Epstein’s fourteen stories explore the ordinary lives of middle-aged Jewish men. In “Casualty,” a professor is bullied by a colleague who is “not very keen on the advent of Jews in English and Irish studies.” In “Janet Natalsky and the Life of Art,” a self-deprecating scholar-critic recounts an uneasy relationship with a former high school classmate. The narrator in “My Brother Eli” struggles to understand his kid brother’s suicide. And in the exceptional title story, Dr. A. Jerome Minkoff, a recently inducted member of “sad fraternity of widowers,” stumbles through a new romance. Epstein’s cast of characters are somber, witty and complex. They struggle with questions of identity and openly ponder whether “we can will ourselves to be something other than we really are.”

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