Einstein’s Beach House
Author: Jacob M. Appel
Publication: October 1, 2014
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction
A couple adopt a depressed hedgehog; a mother is seduced by the father of her daughter’s imaginary friend; a man kidnap’s his ex-wife’s pet turtle. In eight tragi-comic stories, Einstein’s Beach House: Storiesfeatures ordinary men and women rising to life’s extraordinary challenges.
Einstein’s Beach House surprised me! I didn’t know what to expect from this book and from this author but the overall impact it brought me was beyond my expectations. This book consists of 8 short stories, each with different themes but all in all, coming up with one thing — life experiences.
The writing style of Jacob M. Appel is so impressive. He has this unique plot and great, three-dimensional characterization and he laces everything with humor and emotional conflict that even if each story was short, I felt as if I was reading a regular-length book.
I made a brief review for each story because I was too overwhelmed with everything in this book and here they are:
1. Hue and Cry
This is the first short story of Einsten’s Beach House. It’s a dark and twisted story, with an underlying sensitive issue that centers a man who is a sex offender. How he was treated by the people around him totally describes harsh reality. I don’t know exactly what to feel about this but I can say that the author very well establishes a great reality-based story.
2. La tristesse des hérisson
This second short story held a very heavy topic which was handled perfectly with humor. It’s about a couple who adopted a hedgehog. Sounds a bit normal but the moment they took the hedgehog home, their relationship slowly went downhill because of some psychological issues that were focused on the hedgehog. If you read this book blindly, you will appreciate the hidden message the author was conveying. This short story is beautiful and gripping. It’s psychological and an eye-opener. We tend to blame other people for the fault which is entirely done by ourselves and act this defense mechanism which is so-calleddisplacement.
“It’s much better to not be okay when you ought to be fine, than to be perfectly content when you really should be falling to pieces.”
Well this third short story hits home. It’s about a 40 year-old woman who was approached by her ex-lover who’s a musician, for a favor. At first I didn’t get the message behind the story but when I reached the ending– wow! The story sent a deep, powerful message that hit straight to the core. It’s about defining the value of success and failure and how each person’s approach towards these things vary. It’s also more about moving on and forgiveness.
The fourth short story of this book completely stole my heart. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a flashback story about a teenage boy and a girl whose friendship started right when they were in high school. Despite the girl’s imperfections and issues in life, the boy slowly developed feelings for her, which was unfortunately not returned due to the girl’s circumstances and misfortunes. I love how this short-length of a story felt longer than I’ve thought. There was so much emotional depth in this story. The melancholy tone also made me feel like I’m reading a Nicholas Sparks book. From the beginning up to the end, I was pleasantly moved because of the great characterization the author was able to distinguish and the emotions being poured that tugged at my heartstrings.
5. Einstein’s Beach House
Now this fifth story is more about the things that usually happen in the family household. It’s about a couple with two kids who live in a beachfront house which was perceived as Albert Einstein’sbeach house. As they later on made the house a source of their income through the tourists that usually visit because of their curiosity, they later on learned that in fact, the house was originally owned by Einstein’s niece. What made this short story brilliant was how the author emphasized the essence ofsentimental value for a particular thing and how a person values childhood and family relationships. The ending of this short story was so touching!
6. The Rod of Asclepius
By far, this sixth short story is my most favorite of all. I loved the dark theme in which a father and a daughter bonded through some twisted kind of activity. In this story, the father was introduced by the author in a very mysterious way. He pretended to be a doctor whenever he enters the hospital and when he’s inside a particular room, he injects random patients, basically killing them. But he always did it together with her daughter who was a seven year-old. As the girl grew up, the memory of what happened still lingered and even served as a traumatic experience to her. This is such a brilliant, dark story. It’s cringe-worthy and as usual, very well-written. It also gives a reader something to ponder in the end.
7. Sharing the Hostage
This short story is particularly funny! It’s about a divorced woman who wanted her tortoise, which was already in the hands of her ex-husband, back. The ex-couple didn’t have a child but the way they value the turtle, sharing a joint custody, as if it’s their own child, was so hilarious and strange. The woman and her lover planned to abduct the tortoise from her ex-husband but when they’ve already had it, they realized that maybe after all, they shouldn’t have took it because it won’t survive in their planned trip. All throughout the story, I was laughing because of its unrealistic but hilarious approach. In the end, I realized that the story itself shows the importance of giving value to a certain thing– no matter how small or big it is.
The last short story of Einstein’s Beach House is charming. The story centers around a small family consisting a couple and a daughter. The daughter had an imaginary friend whom the couple thought was alarming. This short story is realistic in a way because having an imaginary friend is part of childhood. The message behind the story was also amazing. It emphasizes importance of family bonding and of course, the importance of fidelity.
As a whole, Einstein’s Beach House is a masterpiece and a real gem! I am so thankful to have been given a copy of this book from the author because it’s a book that I will forever treasure. The contents are all unique, amazing, and very well-written, in a can’t-put-it-down way. It’s a powerful anthology that explores every sensible and even psychological aspect of life. If you want a wholesome, thought-provoking reads, I highly recommend this anthology!
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