Published: February 3, 2014
Genre: Short Stories
Source: Goodreads First Reads Program
Recommended for readers who are comfortable with the Short Story Genre
In this auspicious debut, Molly Antopol cuts a wide swath through the fabric of time and place, exploring people from different cultures who are all painfully human in their joys, desires, tragedies, and heartaches. An actor, phased out of Hollywood for his Communist ties during McCarthyism, tries to share a meaningful moment with his son. An Israeli soldier comes of age when his brother is maimed on their communal farm. A gallerist, swept up by the 1970s dissident art movement, begins smuggling paintings out of Moscow and curating underground shows in her Jerusalem home. This is a rare collection as accomplished at capturing our soaring triumphs as it is our crippling defeats--a hopeful reminder that we are all closer and more capable than we sometimes feel.
Short story collections are always a nice change of pace for me and I try to read a half dozen or so of them a year. I've had this one sitting in my TBR pile for quite some time and figured it was about time to give it a try.
Molly Antopol is definitely a writer to watch. Her style is readable yet polished. I will admit that the overall culture of this book (mostly Russian and Eastern European to America or Israel Jewish culture) is not something I know much about, but that made this book all the more fascinating. If I had to pick another writer to whom I could compare Antopol, I'd probably choose Jhumpa Lahiri. While their subject matter is different, their stories are similar in tone.
All the stories in this collection are worth reading and I think that different stories will appeal to different people. Personally, my favorite was "A Difficult Phase," probably because I could most closely identify with the main character.
While I would recommend this book to anyone who reads short story collections, I probably wouldn't suggest it as a "first" collection for anyone. The subject matter is a bit heavy at times and I think someone new to short stories might find a lighter collection a warmer welcome to the genre. Still, this reader is eagerly awaiting Antopol's next work (which I hear is a novel!)
I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads program. I was encouraged, but not required, to write an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.