Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Skaters on Wood : Leslie Epstein







Having read about ¾ of the stories in this collection without posting one review, I suppose that I need to reassess how I go about “doing” this. I need to have the discipline to read one story and then post my thoughts. –RIGHT –

I first encountered this story shortly after receiving the BASS 1978, so you can do the math by looking at previous entries to see when it arrived. I started reading it one morning at my car dealership, and it not holding my attention at the time, I decided to skip ahead and read the JCO story positioned right behind it.

The second encounter came sometime between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m. this morning. I think you will see that my stories are going to be read mostly during this time block. Either I will be reading or doing my morning exercise routines.

The review and other thoughts.

It held my attention. I enjoyed the description of the “Macbeth” production by the Polish Jews. The description of the audience and their reactions to the play was another hook that held my interest. Being that these were Jews in Poland, most readers could deduce what would ultimately happen to them and that this would be factored into the story.

How may readers of this collection actually read each story? How many read the first few...with the editor knowing this, positioning certain authors up front. Joyce Carol Oats in the second slot...Solotaroff recognized talent. Dribble a few other “well-knowns” towards the end, keeping the reader’s interest.

Was Epstein a friend of Solotaroff? Was this story purposely placed in the first position? I can only think it was...given Solotaroff’s editorial skills...if he paid attention to every word...every sentence...the position of an entire story in a collection would certainly fall under his decision.

I wonder what the frequency of “Holocaust” stories were back in 1978. This piece appeared in Esquire, and must have been read by hundreds of thousands.

Was the short story market in recent years saturated with Holocaust stories? Surely there was an explosion of interest after ‘Schindler’s List”. I wonder though, are the masses a bit tired of these stories today? Do the number of these stories cause me to really struggle to give this story all the attention it deserves?

Overall, the story was fine. Just that – fine. I was happy to find that Leslie Epstein is still alive and according to online sources, is the director of the Creative Writing program at Boston University. He joined the BU faculty in 1978. It also appears that he has produced quite a collection of writings. I’m glad that Epstein continued to write. Will I read any more of his writing? Not unless any of his other stories appear in future collections. I would imagine that they might. I have no desire to seek out his other writings.

Points – 5 out of 10. Initially a 6 but changed after thinking about it a little more.

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