To say that fiction like Epstein’s requires a new way of reading, and it does, is not to say that it’s difficult or unwelcoming. The work leads you along, gradually recalibrating your accustomed response time. The brevity has the effect of concentrating the attention: you grow more alert, eased into the ultra-receptive mindset engendered by a good haiku or zen koan. Before you know it, the longer stories – those of a full page and more – come to feel almost like novels. You become hyper-aware of how much can be fit into a small space – and by extension, how much of conventional fiction is, by strictest definition, unnecessary.
It can’t be said of many writers that they’d be equally at home among contemporary McSweeney’s-style pranksters and the august lineage of Kafka, Borges and Bruno Schulz, but Alex Epstein is just such a find.
Read in full here.