ISBN: 978-1-62557-705-4

Amazing Things Are Happening Here

Publication Date: April 2019


Listen to Jacob Appel Read “Amazing Things Are Happening Here” // Watch the captioned video on the BLP YouTube Channel


I am happy to report that the United States has its own Chekhov in Jacob Appel. His stories illuminate the kind of questions that keep us awake at night-Is this love? How do I know for sure? Is anything certain in life? Whether they deal with adolescence, middle- or old-age, Appel’s stories depict with poignancy and quirky humor exactly what is at stake. “The Bigamist’s Apprentice” made me laugh out loud and should be required reading for anyone with a relative disabled by dementia. These are some of the best short stories I have read in a long time.

–Enid Shomer

Amazing Things Are Happening Here is a delicious pleasure to read. The world of each story is so engrossing, so alive, I could not stop reading until I’d finished the book. Rich with characters that navigate their poor choices with sly humor and an absentminded grace, the book knocked me out. Jacob Appel is a short story artisan.

–Margaret Malone

I don’t know how Jacob Appel does it. I’m not talking about the fact that Appel is a physician and attorney and teacher in addition to the work that he does with a pencil in his hand. I’m talking, too, about the stories that he writes, stories that are uniquely his own, written with equal doses of heft, hilarity and heart. Amazing Things Are Happening Here is an apt title for a collection such as this, filled as it is with a sense of invention and evention or eventiveness that makes Jacob Appel about as original of a voice that you’re likely to find if this is the kind of looking you are looking at this book to find.

–Peter Markus

Jacob Appel’s recent stories galvanize into being characters whose helpless, undignified struggles against the riptide of “the hormone-frenzied expanse of adolescence,” the absurdities of maturity, and “the senile fancies” of old age are, at once, comic and pitiable. His closely observed, richly particularized narrators suffer the turbulence, perplexity, and self-deception of the “famished” heart—their ostensibly minor catastrophes acquiring, by this writer’s sympathetic recording of American vernacular life, a kind of tragic grandeur. A physician by profession and an authentic storyteller by compulsion, Appel wields his instruments with precision and humanity.

—Norman Lock

The stories in Appel’s Amazing Things Are Happening Here are honest, provocative, and poignant. The characters are diverse, often adults interrogating their childhoods long past. They are acerbic, frank witnesses to the events that moved them from the naïve bewilderment of innocence to the sharper interrogations that rise from considered experience. These narrators are not jaded time travelers but earnest navigators seeking difficult revelation over easy closure.

—Kerry Neville

Jacob Appel writes with an assuredness and verve that is mesmerizing. The stories in Amazing Things Are Happening Here kept me riveted with their vivid places, surprising turns, and unflinching examination of all the complex, flawed ways we live—and reckon with—our lives. Amazing, indeed.

—Bryn Chancellor

In his new short story collection, Amazing Things Are Happening Here, Jacob Appel renders our post 9/11 world through a variety of personalities, each narrating their unique and startling stories. Meet the shy high school student with a crush on a girl dying of leukemia, the mother whale who beaches to save her offspring, the search for the VA hospital’s lunatic who goes missing and never returns, and more. We are in the hands of a patient, master artist who watches the world unfolding around him, sees its protagonists’ inadvertent mistakes, and observes them endeavoring to reclaim their dignity. These stories lift us far above the realm of entertainment, and instead enrich and enliven the psyche’s oceanic heights and depths.

—Marilyn Krysl

Life is in the details, and those details crackle with energy in the eight stories in Jacob Appel’s new collection. Amazing Things Are Happening Here brings us characters grappling with a range of situations, and the vividness reminds us that in the particular often comes the surprise and poignancy of self-revelation, too.

—Anne Sanow

In Amazing Things Are Happening Here, Jacob Appel tells the truth: Amazing things are happening here in each of these rich and tender stories. Never predictable, always insightful, with endings that are subtle and divine, these stories will stay with you long after they take your breath away.

—Jen Grow

About the Author

Jacob M. Appel

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 in four different years, 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, Best American Mystery Stories, and the Pushcart Prize anthology on numerous occasions.   His first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012.  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.

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