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Latest Review: "Lunar Savings Time" by Alex Epstein

The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a piece by Daniela Hurezanu about Alex Epstein’s Lunar Savings Time, which is translated from the Hebrew by Becka Mara McKay and available from Clockroot Books.

Daniela Hurezanu has reviewed for us several times in the past, and here’s her official bio, courtesy of Words Without Borders:

Daniela Hurezanu has a Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures and taught French for ten years at several universities in the United States. She has authored a book of literary criticism and scholarly articles in magazines such as The Romanic Review, Post-Scriptum.ORG, Orbis Litterarum, and Phréatique. She has published translations in Metamorphoses, Manoa, Field, Exquisite Corpse, New Orleans Review, and Circumference, and her original work has appeared or is forthcoming in LittéRéalité, Pacific Review and Prairie Schooner. In 2004 she received a Francophone award for short stories.

Even if we weren’t interested in Alex Epstein’s work (we are!), we’d review this based solely on our respect and admiration for Clockroot Books (stellar press) and Becka McKay (one of the friendliest and funniest and most talented of all contemporary translators). Here’s the opening of Daniela’s review:

Becka Mara McKay is slowly becoming one of our most reliable translators from the Hebrew. Her most recent translation, Lunar Savings Time (2011) comes as a counterpart to Blue Has no South (2010), both by Alex Epstein, and available from Clockroot Books. The two books complement each other not only physically, but also because they could be part of the same book. Published as “stories,” they would be probably categorized as prose poem or flash fiction collections by most American readers and writers.

The fact that, as in his previous book, the pieces in Epstein’s Lunar Savings Time are framed as “stories” is not unimportant because the framing forces the reader to adopt a certain position by focusing on the narrative thread. Indeed, with very few exceptions, all the pieces in this collection, no matter how short, “tell a story.” Even the exceptions could be called, technically speaking, “stories,” because there is something happening in them: “The last man in the world wrote the last haiku in the world;” or: “The ghost was still breastfeeding.”

There are two major influences that are obvious in this collection: Borges and Kafka. The references to Borges are indirect, and can be detected in a structure many of the pieces have, in which a story and its main protagonist become a tangent to another story with another protagonist, so that each story appears as the fragment of another, bigger story. On the other hand, Kafka’s name appears many times, as well as those of other famous real people, such as Heidegger, Stephen Hawking, Yuri Gagarin, Emily Dickinson, or mythological Greek heroes, which are appropriated in made-up contexts.

Click here to read the entire review.



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