- Paperback: 194 pages
- Publisher: Black Lawrence Press (February 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937854957
- ISBN-13: 978-1937854959
- Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scouting for the Reaper
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"Appel approaches his characters with compassion and an understanding of human frailty....A beautiful, well-balanced collection." -- Kirkus Reviews
"The dialog, even when one of the speakers wobbles on the verge of madness, shows bite and intelligence.....The rambunctious serendipity recalls T.C. Boyle, as does the ability to turn on a dime, now cutthroat, now huggable."--JOHN DOMINI, The Brooklyn Rail
"For me to really enjoy a short story it must be something special and every once in a while, I find an entire collection of very special short stories. "Scouting for the Reaper" happens to be one of those collections."--AMOS LASSEN
"Every story is filled with all the pathos, humor, and intimacy readers will come to expect from this author."--SUE ELLIS, Prick of the Spindle
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The final two stories in this collection are both funny and surreal. In “Hazardous Cargoes”, a lonely trucker with a load of 42 penguins and assorted rare animals copes with a difficult teenage runaway. And in “The Vermin Episode”, Appel wonders what happened to the dung-beetle body of Gregor Samsa, which no cemetery will inter. Even so, my favorite story in this collection is “The Extinction of Fairy Tales”. There, Appel writes with great insight and poignancy about death and the odd dependencies (which are a kind of infatuation) that can develop between people who are virtual strangers.
Appel is an elegant and humorous writer. In each of his stories, the emotional lives of his protagonists evolve persuasively. He is also original but subtle and can find something new without being edgy or transgressive. This collection is fine work and is recommended.
Phew. I dodged a bullet with this one. Polymath Jacob M. Appel’s collection of short stories, Scouting for the Reaper came very, very highly recommended by one of my most trusted goodreads friends. Then, when I read the author’s bio, my anticipation just flew off the scale. I couldn’t wait. I jumped his book to the head of a very long line.
Imagine my surprise, then; my quandary and disappointment, when I found myself not much liking the first couple of stories. They seemed rather uninteresting, to me, and laced with futility—without a single character with whom I could connect.
How was I going to write—i.e. tactically phrase—a negative (2, maybe 2.5 stars) review? I’d rather break my own heart than a friend’s.
No need. In the third, the title story, along comes Louise Natalie Limberg, eleven year old narrator/faux girl scout, cum tombstone merchandiser—and I’ve found my character to be comfortable and happy with. And it just kept getting better from there.
My favorite characters of all were Edie and Sammy, in The Extinction of Fairytales (my favorite story of the collection); and the unnamed narrator, Viktoria, and Short John Silver in my second favorite tale: Hazardous Cargos.
Recommendation: If you like cleverly outlandish, these are the tales for you.
“No matter how hard you try to mind your own business, eventually, no matter what precautions you take, you’re bound to find yourself surrounded by a bunch of flailing penguins.” (Kindle Locations 3660-3662)
Black Lawrence Press. Kindle Edition.
The author has the ability to take a small snapshot of a family and hone in on the diverse nature of each persons relationship with the others. While we might discount certain encounters as run of the mill, he bores down, looking at hidden or long forgotten motives, desires and recognizes regret. Even choosing a casket becomes a moment in time, that may cause you to look back at your own life, and wish you'd chosen a different path.
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I give this 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.Read more
This is a collection of eight short stories written by Jacob M Appel.Read more