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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on August 22, 2003
Epstein's work is old-fashioned in the best sense of the term. There is no "writers' school" trendiness here. Each story packs in a lifetime of detail about one or more characters, with plots that dwell on similar themes: Jews growing up in Chicago, illness and death, family tensions, the debt to high culture. On the surface this may seem repetitious, but it never is. Indeed, the literary cohesion of the stories is one of the charms of this collection -- it is not all over the place. Curiously, it reminds me in some ways of the stories of Louis Auchincloss; even though their two ethnic milieus are far apart, both writers share a profound sense of the moral dimension of life. This moving work is sensitive, humorous, gripping. In 340 pages we get the stuff of twenty novels, all propelled by a power of description that is continuously engrossing.
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on July 21, 2003
I have enjoyed reading Joseph Epstein's essays, and there are two kinds that I especially admire. The first are the personal essays that are autobiographical and often very funny, and the second are the literary essays that are rather dark and certainly sobering. In these stories Epstein manages to combine elements of both the funny and the dark in a way that resembles Chekhov, without, obviously, rising quite to that level. He does, however, rise well above the many recent American short stories that seem to present little more than puzzling ephipanies. Instead he describes, with considerable respect, characters from ordinary bourgeois life in Chicago, and he actually tells stories about their lives. That alone is practically heroic, and deserves praise.
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on August 14, 2003
How I Spent my Summer Vacation...well, at the top of the list will be reading this fine collection of short stories, almost all of which take place in Chicago. Indeed, I grew up next door to a building in which one of the characters lived. I was moved by this collection of stories about mostly middle and late aged Jews. I'm much younger then the subjects of this stories, but I was moved anyway. It is beautiful collection about religion, love, and a person's place in the world. It is a collection that I won't soon forget. Kudos to Epstein for getting the small Chicago details right--it just makes the stories richer. I've already lent this book out--I may never see it again! I loved it!
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on October 28, 2003
What's not to love?? Humor, wit, pathos. Epstein delivers. The wonderfully written short stories are as relevant to the human conditon as they are to the Chicago Jewish experience.
If you liked the Goldin Boys, you will definitely like this one.
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