Amer­i­can Waste­land: Sto­ries by Alexan­der Shalom Joseph

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

Alexan­der Shalom Joseph’s Amer­i­can Waste­land is a col­lec­tion of sto­ries about the con­tem­po­rary day-to-day in Amer­i­ca. It is said in the Tal­mud that one job of cer­tain Jews is to jus­ti­fy the exis­tence of human­i­ty to God; in this col­lec­tion, Joseph attempts to do just this with his sto­ries, which speak to the every­day mun­dane and the vast rich­ness in both mean­ing and mean­ing­less­ness that abound all around us. In one sto­ry a recent divorcee tries to find mean­ing on the Fourth of July but ends up stuck in traf­fic. In anoth­er, a sub­ur­ban man unhap­py with his life becomes obsessed with wash­ing his car at a twen­ty-four-hour car wash in his neigh­bor­hood. In anoth­er, a young woman rec­ol­lects her child­hood with a sin­gle moth­er and how they used to paint their nails and eat break­fast togeth­er. In yet anoth­er, a sin­gle per­son suf­fers through a din­ner par­ty at which they are the fifth wheel. These sto­ries, vivid in detail, por­tray a stag­nant land full of long­ing. They present a por­trait of a coun­try full of mil­lions of lost peo­ple, try­ing to make sense of a world which can seem both crush­ing and light at the same time.

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