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The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff: And Other Stories Hardcover – June 14, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
I am not a great fan of short stories. I generally like longer works of fiction, but lately I've come to realise that the writing of good short stories is probably far more difficult than writing a novel. With short stories, the author doesn't have the latitude to endlessly express himself. What he writes must be - by definition - short and to the point. Characters have to be drawn carefully and plots are often jettisoned to make way for character development.
Epstein is a master at character development. This book, consisting of fourteen short stories, begins and ends with stories about older men, widowers, who are given second chances at love and fulfillment. All of his stories are set in Chicago - with some action in California, New York, and Washington DC - and all are about men of a certain age. The age that it appears Epstein is now. All the characters are Jewish, and most raised on the North Side of Chicago, the Chicago of Senn, Sullivan, and Mather High Schools, and now living in either the northern suburbs or the Gold Coast. Most of the stories are written in the first person. All the stories are interesting, all of them. There's not a clunker or loser in the bunch. Each could have been easily expanded into novel length, but all tell their stories in the pages allotted.
These stories tell of a generation of men, mostly coming from immigrant families and coming of age after WW2.Read more ›
And yet...variations on a theme though they may be...these are exquisite stories, each one a joy to read. Author Joseph Epstein writes beautifully, drawing you in to each story. Like tales told by a beloved uncle the writing is easy, conversational, homey, laced with Jewish humor. Sometimes the author seems to make gentle fun of himself when he writes about writers and their various forms of angst. Always, though, what comes through is a kind of warm compassion for the human condition.
I think you might have to be of a certain age to really appreciate these exquisite stories, but then again, maybe not. Maybe you'll just have to read them again when you're a little older. I loved this little book and I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
Love Song is the first book of fiction by Epstein that I've read and it is excellent. He shows the same strengths in his fiction as in his non-fiction essays: a dry sense of humor that approaches but never spills over into outright whimsy; sage and skeptical comments about the oftentimes odd, even irrational behavior of that uncommon animal called the human being; the gift of telling a story; and last, and best, a deep affection for his fellow beings, even in the moments when they irritate him most. In short, Epstein is as exceptional a short story writer as he is an essayist. He, wisely I believe, sticks to a subject he knows at first hand: the comings and goings of middle and upper class Jews, mostly of Epstein's age or near it, in his home town, Chicago. The reviewer in Publisher's Weekly found this formula "restrictive." I didn't, but it is true that all of these stories are about the same tribe, pretty much about people of the same age, and people who act, think, and feel pretty much the same way. Still, I found these miniatures affecting and a great deal of fun to read.Read more ›
I found the stories about aging to be the most poignant, particularly "Kuperman Awaits Ecstasy" and "The Philosopher and the Checkout Girl." Those deal with men who have been afraid to take a chance and meet dynamic women late in their lives. I guess we all feel all hope that will happen, regardless of whether we've had happy relationships or unsuccessful ones in the past.
On the other hand, the stories about academics and their life in academia are uninteresting. That ground has been covered by all too many writers, usually with much greater comic or satiric effect. A lot of the stories have a dollop of wisdom, but it's obvious wisdom and dispensed with a heavy hand. "Danny Montoya" is a good example, in which high school classmates meet by accident after nearly 50 years, and one tries to convince the other that he had greatness in his grasp and that greatness is all that matters, while the other says that being a good person and living a good life is more important than greatness. It's sort of the same ground trod in "My Brother Eli," a tale about a world-famous novelist and world-class jerk that's told by his brother who was merely a successful merchant and good father.
Overall, can't recommend these stories unless you are endlessly fascinated by your Jewish heritage or by living in Chicago.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I consider myself all the more richer every time I finish a book by Joseph Epstein. But this one tops my list. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Annabelle Lee
typical Epstein. loved it, going to read Goldin Boys againPublished 18 months ago by robert kushnir
Wonderful stories. Loved this collection. I have never been a lover of short stories. My sister recommend this book and am now a fan!Published 20 months ago by Leo
Reflected an understanding of character and circumstance.
It's about what has meaning and the magic of truth.
Truly very meaningful!
I highly recommend Joseph Epstein's stories. He is a skilled writer, has a marvelous sense of humor, and writes about people I'm sure I recognize.Published on May 11, 2013 by Joyce Kossy
I had to review this short-story book for a book club and I enjoyed reading almost all of the stories--worthwhile reading. Of course, some of the stories are better than others. Read morePublished on April 20, 2013 by Ina Begoun
The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff by Joseph Epstein, is a book of short stories, all of which focus on male Jewish protagonists, usually in their 60's, in Chicago. Read morePublished on March 25, 2013 by Fairbanks Reader
This is the second story collection I have read by Epstein. Some I read before in Commentary Magazine. Read morePublished on December 27, 2012 by dougrhon
I was so happy to discover this writer. He is the first writer to get me interested in reading short shorties. Read morePublished on May 11, 2012 by Joy Casey