Phoning Home: Essays

Jacob M Appel (Author)


Phoning Home is a collection of entertaining and thought-provoking essays featuring the author�s quirky family, his Jewish heritage, and his New York City upbringing. Jacob M. Appel�s recollections and insights, informed and filtered by his advanced degrees in medicine, law, and ethics, not only inspire nostalgic feelings but also offer insight into contemporary medical and ethical issues.

At times sardonic and at others self-deprecating, Appel lays bare the most private aspects of his emotional life. �We�d just visited my grandaunt in Miami Beach, the last time we would ever see her. I had my two travel companions, Fat and Thin, securely buckled into the backseat of my mother�s foul-tempered Dodge Dart,� writes Appel of his family vacation with his two favorite rubber cat toys. Shortly thereafter Fat and Thin were lost forever�beginning, when Appel was just six years old, what he calls his �private apocalypse.�

Both erudite and full-hearted, Appel recounts storylines ranging from a bout of unrequited love gone awry to the poignant romance of his grandparents. We learn of the crank phone calls he made to his own family, the conspicuous absence of Jell-O at his grandaunt�s house, and family secrets long believed buried. The stories capture the author�s distinctive voice�a blend of a physician�s compassion and an ethicist�s constant questioning.

Product Details

University of South Carolina Press
Publish Date
May 31, 2014
5.34 X 0.83 X 7.23 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Jacob M. Appel is a doctor, lawyer, medical bioethicist, and a widely published fiction writer. In addition to THE TOPLESS WIDOW OF HERKIMER STREET (Howling Bird Press, 2016), he has written nine books, including, most recently, MIRACLES AND CONUNDRUMS OF THE SECONDARY PLANET (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). His first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection SCOUTING FOR THE REAPER (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has won the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Dana Award, and many other honors. He has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals, including Agni, Conjunctions, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. Appel holds graduate degrees from Brown University, where he also taught for many years, 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. A resident of New York, he currently teaches at the Gotham Writer's Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


�In essay after essay, Appel holds the reader�s attention through a combination of wit, self-deprecation, wisdom, incisive knowledge and a deep sense of compassion and empathy for his fellow human beings. Phoning Home is a worthy addition to the pantheon of great American essays.�--Girija Sankar, New Pages Book Reviews
�In his essays, Jacob Appel vividly evokes a younger version of himself, whom he treats with both cruelty and affection. His essays are gentle, crisp, self-mocking, and sneakily absurd. In each essay, he reaches some sort of equilibrium, a kind of intellectual epiphany that doesn't come easily; instead, it feels raw and hard-earned.��Rachel Aviv, staff writer at the New Yorker