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The Widows and Orphans Fund Paperback – February 8, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Alan Elyshevitz is a short story writer and poet who was born in New York City and now lives in East Norriton, PA. His fiction has received awards from Antietam Review, The Cream City Review, Pebble Lake Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Yemassee. His collection of stories, "The Widows and Orphans Fund" is forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. In addition, he has published two poetry chapbooks: "The Splinter in Passion's Paw" (New Spirit) and "Theory of Everything" (Pudding House). He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of English at the Community College of Philadelphia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Stephen F. Austin State University Press (February 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936205467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936205462
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,150,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alan Elyshevitz is a short story writer and poet who was born in New York City and now lives in East Norriton, PA. His fiction has received awards from Antietam Review, The Cream City Review, Pebble Lake Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Yemassee. His collection of stories, "The Widows and Orphans Fund," was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. In addition, he has published three poetry chapbooks: "Imaginary Planet" (Cervena Barva), "Theory of Everything" (Pudding House), and "The Splinter in Passion's Paw" (New Spirit). He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of English at the Community College of Philadelphia.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laura J. Oliver on May 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a creative writing instructor teaching both memoir and fiction, and the author of "The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers" (Penguin Books,) I read a lot of collections and Alan Elyshevitz's "The Widows and Orphans Fund," is one of the best selections of stories I've ever come across. The stories explore a full range of characters confronting their internal conflicts, longings and desires in circumstances that feel completely plausible, due largely to the skill with which the stories are written. Somehow the ordinary becomes extraordinary as Elyshevitz deftly maintains an often understated tension. What happened to the boys lost on the mountain? The reader's attention is pulled from a question that huge to the tension in the narrator's relationship at home. Will the dying girl be carried to help in time? Again, the tension shifts to the narrator's emotional response to his burden which is a remarkable feat of writing when the stakes are so high. The craft is so seamless as to be the invisible stitching that holds each story together creating characters that live on in the reader's mind long after the conclusion of the narrative. Elyshevitz is particularly talented at writing dialogue and at creating compelling story beginnings that draw the reader in without drawing attention to themselves. For fiction lovers and those who teach as well, "The Widows and Orphans Fund" is both a great read and a superb example of the craft of fiction writing. This is a book to both entertain and mentor readers and writers alike.
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Format: Paperback
I was familiar with one of the stories in this collection, "Tribes," before I read the entire book, so my expectations were pretty high, but nothing prepared me for the way I felt when I closed the book. Elyshevitz has managed to capture life in a way few other contemporary short story writers have done. This is a book about the gaps in our lives that we don't even know we have. It is a book of fiction, but each story unfolds as a poem would, slowly, from underneath to the surface.

Another reviewer wrote that the stories end "before something happens," but I can't agree with that statement. Because the stories are about the things we're missing instead of the things we have or do, each story ends with a subtle but profound realization. So William goes to sit in a field. Patrick says goodbye to his last friend in a lonely place. Doc whispers "Drive safe." In other words, at the end of each story, Elyshevitz delivers a punch from the dark that is wholly satisfying.

This is a book that takes on life today. While we are bombarded with the hype and the noise and doomsday news from all directions, it is the quiet, insistent whispers that grow beneath our surfaces that indicate the problems we must face. Elyshevitz reminds us to listen to those whispers and deal with their complaints before it is too late. And he does so in a work of unflinching beauty, wisdom, and wit.
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Format: Paperback
Most of these carefully constructed and fascinating stories end before something happens. In every case, tossing baseballs to their sons, defrosting their refrigerators, or photographing fallen soldiers in a nameless country, Elyshevitz's characters reach a point where they become aware of the absurdity of their circumstances, and then, the stories end, before those men and women have a chance to act on what they know. I should say that some of these stories are very funny. I think of Mel, the hero of "Bad Credit" and education at the hands of expert collectors, or the attempt of Charlie to overcome his childhood memories of the accordion by way to guitar lessons in "Amsterdam Blues." Yet the stories that stuck with me were less funny than they were disturbing, or rather, were funny and disturbing at the same time. Who were those wayward boy-scouts on the mountain, overtaking the quarreling couple on the trail? Why did a strange, flaming constellation have a profound impact on a man who hoards office supplies? Why does releasing freon-gas alter a woman's personality? As he explores the lives of these absurd men (and women!) Elyshevitz is empathetic and unsparing, an American Camus.
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Sometimes, you don't have to read a novel to get good stories and good characters. As a writer of short stories myself, I know the importance of the short story. This collection contains a variety of different (and, different types of) tales.
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