Alex Epstein

The official website of the author Alex Epstein

Ithaca in the Rain. The Rain in Auschwitz

Once upon a time there was a writer who published a memoir of his childhood in Buchenwald. This was the first time that he’d written about the Holocaust. All his life he wrote love stories (and in all of his love stories it rained endlessly, on almost every page, so that it was possible to close the book and still smell the odor of damp earth from within the leather binding, but this is another matter). Only after a few years, on his deathbed, he admitted that the whole story was nothing more than a fabrication. In those days he was not in Buchenwald, but in Auschwitz. And only for a year.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay.

On the Power of Russian Literature

My great-grandmother once shut a book by Tolstoy so hard that a spark came from its pages, and the spark climbed up the curtains, and ignited a fire, and our summer house went up in flames. I did not inherit this talent of my great-grandmother’s, but once I did try to write a story in which everything took place in reverse: the summer house goes up in flames, the curtain burns, a spark catches in the pages of Anna Karenina, and so on: my great-grandmother shut the book so hard that the fire was extinguished.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay. Art: Lior Reizel. Mixed technique on canvas (detail).


If All We Have

After midnight, in a hotel in a foreign country, they turned on the radio on the nightstand (they didn’t find any stations with songs that they knew). But from the balcony they could see, on the sea’s surface, the wandering paintbrush of the old lighthouse, which was still in operation. If all we have is the present, then time travel is music.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay.


Lie to Me, Muse

All of the creases in the maps were flattened long ago. On this journey not ten years passed, but a whole life. Even the old man resting on the bench damp from rain cannot recognize his son from a picture in a wallet.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay


Perfect Timing

To leave something for the family, the man who decided to commit suicide hired himself out as a one-time hit man. (He found guidance in his son’s schoolbooks: a sniffling Superman and a bird with a burning tail fly toward each other at such-and-such speed: when will they meet, etc.) Day and night he made calculations to time exactly his fall from the roof with the victim’s exit from the building. The only thing left to add is that certainly stories more miraculous and sad than this happen in the world. At the moment of truth he moved his watch from his right wrist to his left wrist and then dove.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay


Four new short-short stories at Haaretz

Hebrew only >>>

On the Homeless, Heading Home

In Denver I saw a homeless man with a suitcase walking slowly from nowhere to nowhere. A few meters behind him, a torn plastic bag floated above the sidewalk. Wherever he turned—the plastic bag turned behind him. I once read about a similar incident that happened to Genghis Khan, but in his case it wasn’t a plastic bag, but a cloud in the sky.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay

More Experiments in Quantum Mechanics

A story for two

Let’s assume that on the other side of the wall stands a woman with whom you are about to fall in love. Let’s assume that on the other side of the wall stands a man with whom you are about to fall in love. Let’s leave out for a moment the probability of a piano passing through a wall, because it’s not the constant of love that we are trying to discover here, nor the two identical fingerprints, nor the two identical snowflakes, and not even the two cranes who were scheduled on the same morning on the same street to lift two pianos to two different apartments in the same building and so on—now, let’s assume that there is no wall.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay.

Lamentation

And the king from the East shall conquer their land, and cut out the right eye of every man. Because their land is harder than a diamond. And the king from the West shall defeat the king from the East and conquer their land and cut out the left eye of every woman. Because their rivers are the color of topaz. Or the opposite: The women’s right eyes, the men’s left eyes. Because symmetry is only a knitting needle in the skein of beauty. And one woman shall say to one man, “Birds fly in an arrow formation to shield themselves from the wind.” And he shall say, “But there are only two of us.” In the air no signs shall remain of the desperate beating of our wings.

From Lunar Savings Time, Clockroot Books. From the Hebrew: Becka Mara McKay.


An interview at the Kenyon Review blog

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