Book Review: Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel

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4/5 Stars

Note: Thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes I struggle with short story collections because they’re unable to hold my attention. This was not the case with Einstein’s Beach House. These are some of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever read, and as someone who is drawn to the strange , dark, and melancholy aspects of humanity, I fully intend that as a compliment.

A couple adopts a depressed hedgehog. A man posing as a doctor kills innocent patients to avenge his dead wife. A woman has an affair with the father of her daughter’s imaginary friend.

There’s your glimpse into the absurdity this short story collection has to offer. But the oddness doesn’t end with Appel’s concepts; he infuses it into all the little details of his stories and the characters who inhabit them. It’s like stepping inside a Todd Solondz movie—a version of the real world in which the strangeness and vulnerability that accompany being human are amplified.

As with any short story collection, some stood out above the rest, but they’re all short enough and fundamentally interesting enough to easily power through. There were a few instances in which I felt like the “meaning” of a story was shoved into my face when it could have been revealed with more careful nuance, but overall I found Appel’s writing to be quite good.

I recommend Einstein’s Beach House for all my fellow weirdos out there.

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