Author: Ponce, Pedro
Date published: October 1, 2011
Journal code: PRCF
Alex Epstein. Lunar Savings Time. Trans. Becka Mará McKay. Clockroot Books, 2011. 136pp. Paper: $15.00.
As I write this, Borders is closing its doors for good, while The Onion has composed a mock obituary for the "Last Literate Person On Earth," dead at ninety-eight. Literary writers, it seems, no longer fret over how to capture the kaleidoscopic reality of the new century, but instead wonder why they should bother trying in the first place. In his latest collection, Lunar Savings Time, Israeli author Alex Epstein has, if not answered these questions, at least illuminateci a new path toward the literary amid the detritus of print and digital culture. The picture that emerges from this mosaic of narratives- many not more than a page in length - is by no means bleak. Epsteins very short fictions delineate the enormous imaginative space that is contained within the book - a virtual reality that encompasses past and present, the obscure and the viral simultaneously within its modest pages. The result is alchemy rather than entropy: "And it was winter. The Zen monk updated his Facebook status: 'In the evening it snowed. In the night I dreamed it was snowing.' And finally, spring: the ghost's water broke." Epstein doesn't bemoan the ephemeral excess of the digital age; his poetic narratives invite the reader to be more attentive for its plentiful (and inevitable) moments of unexpected beauty, as in On the Writer's Conference": "The writer from the moon has a British accent. He reads a novella set in India. Every time he pronounces the word elephant, the refined audience blushes with pleasure. After him, a Brazilian writer lectures on 'The Nightlife of the Short Story.' In a plaza outside the auditorium, a young woman plump from love is smoking the last cigarette of the evening. In [a] moment she will throw the butt into the sky." [Pedro Ponce]