Fiction. Named one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Fiction Books of 2014. Each of the characters in SCOUTING FOR THE REAPER faces an unanticipated challenge: transporting a truckload of penguins across the country, arranging a proper Jewish burial for the remains of Gregor Samsa, and selling tombstones dressed as a Girl Scout. These stories explore the domestic and professional adventures of people in over their heads, while leavening their struggles with humor.
"Jacob Appel's stories echo with secrets. There are the secrets we keep from those closest to us, of course. Our parents, our doctors, our clergy, our ex-wives and unrequited loves. Any run of the mill story has those. Good stories traffic in the kind of secrets we keep from ourselves. Why, for instance, what and who we love are so close in content and character to what we can't abide. Appel's that kind of trafficker. Even better, throughout this fine collection, he is most concerned with still another kind of secret: that which, when revealed, doesn't solve anything. Like the very best stories, they carry the mystery forward. Revelation, in the end, isn't an end at all. It's a beginning. SCOUTING FOR THE REAPER is full of such revelations. Here's hoping it signals the beginning of a long string of books penned by this talented polymath."—TJ Beitelman
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Jacob M. Appel is a physician, attorney and bioethicist based in New York City. He is the author of more than two hundred published short stories and is a past winner of the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Dana Award, the Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction, the North American Review's Kurt Vonnegut Prize, the Missouri Review's Editor's Prize, the Sycamore Review's Wabash Prize, the Briar Cliff Review's Short Fiction Prize, the H. E. Francis Prize, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Award on four separate occasions, an Elizabeth George Fellowship and a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writers Grant. His stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize anthology on numerous occasions. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and numerous other regional newspapers. Jacob holds graduate degrees from Brown University, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard Law School, New York University's MFA program in fiction and Albany Medical College's Alden March Institute of Bioethics. He taught for many years at Brown University and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers' Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.Review:
"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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