Alex Epstein

The official website of the author Alex Epstein

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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How to Arrange Your Lover’s Library

This was only a rather old dictionary with a ragged cover. He had no idea that for half a year the folded scrap of paper in D’s handwriting had been hidden inside.
They used to use the dictionary to play a game they invented. When it was his turn, he looked in the dictionary for an archaic and unfamiliar word and paired it with a definition that sounded logical. He presented the word to D along with the definition he invented and the definition from the dictionary.For example: Empasm: “A sudden, intense, and sympathetic feeling” or “A perfumed powder once used in healing.” She would have to choose which of the definitions was true. If she answered correctly—sometimes she simply knew the meaning of the word—it was her turn.
He leafed through the dictionary and remembered with a smile how she once tried to deceive him and made up a word that didn’t exist: “to rain continuously, to rain both day and night” or “one hundred seventy cubits, ten times an elephant’s height.”
The old dictionary stood to the right of one the spaces that opened up when she left. He had only meant to take it off of the shelf, to clear out a place for the new and used books he bought. He had already obtained copies of most of her books. “If only we could arrange it all differently,” she wrote. “Like cummings’ spring. Fraction of flower here, placing an inch there, and without breaking anything.”

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

Love’s Spare Parts

This is also not a story because it is a love story: Research has proven that people who speak Semitic languages (Hebrew and Arabic, for example) don’t forget them after a stroke. Because the database of these languages is distributed between the two sides of the brain. This phenomenon also happens to angels—unless they have a stroke while in midair, and then they are not sure how to land. The man in the bar who told me these facts said that tomorrow he was going to buy an electric wheelchair for his wife. She had muscular dystrophy. He found a place that sold them with a lifetime guarantee.


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

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Heidegger’s Soul

Winter is a city, and in this city Martin Heidegger is dreaming something like this: And old Gypsy woman is harassing him on the street, next to a house with an even-numbered address. And yes, she wants to ask him a riddle. In Heidegger’s dream he walks out of an office-supply store with a conical paperweight while the old woman is dragging a sack of something swaying back and forth and perhaps breathing—in his heart Heidegger guesses correctly: these aren’t books. The old woman asks Heidegger if she should wait while he nears a solution. Heidegger, who is uncomfortable being seen in such company in public, and is dumbfounded that anyone let her wander around like this in the middle of the city, hurriedly points with the cone in his hands to a torn piece of cloud being dragged on the edge of a fleet of broad clouds in the sky. He declares that this torn piece of cloud, this and no other, is his soul. The old Gypsy shrugs and says that this is not the riddle. She rests the sack on the sidewalk and rummages inside. Heidegger wakes covered in sweat. From every direction air raid sirens wail.

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

Lunar Savings Time – first review

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