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The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  83 reviews
This new collection by New York writer Jacob M. Appel features two brothers fighting over a collection of iron lungs, a elderly suburbanite campaigns for the right to sunbathe topless on her lawn, and a couple’s whose retirement home is accidentally delivered to the wrong address, where the current occupant refuses to return it. Each of the stories in The Topless Widow of ...more
Paperback, 181 pages
Published July 24th 2016 by Howling Bird Press (Augsburg College)
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4.40  · 
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 ·  130 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
There is something about Jacob M Appel's writing that moves me to the core. He possesses a rare insight into human nature. His characters stay with me long after I have finished their stories.

I can never read his tales without learning something new. He inspires me, and makes me long to be able to write.

Every new collection of his work is somehow better than his last. He has become one of my all time favourite authors. The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street is a collection of eight stories detaili
Elyse Walters
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The title story "The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street", is a bighearted laugh-out-loud
story. Funny....with tons of feeling!

Another inventive collection.....hooked from start to finish. These stories are lighter
than some of his other books.

Smart.....delightfully quirky.....and sparkles with wit!!!!

Thank you, Augsburg University, Howling Bird press, Netgalley, and 'always',
Jacob M. Appel. ---Soulful in unexpected ways make life a little more enjoyable with the books your write us.
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street by Jacob M Appel
I loved every single story in this collection. Jacob M Appel has won too many awards to to name them all here for his writing. He not only is a great writer but he is also a doctor, lawyer and bioethicist. These stories are all timely and cutting edge. This author makes all of his stories so interesting they all, every single one of them interested me.

The Current Occupant was about a man named Lewinter who bought a house at a discount from a m
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another funny, disturbing, crazy compilation of short stories by Mr. Appel. His skill at fashioning a story never ceases to amaze and delight. Wow, he has one incredible imagination. I always enjoy his tales-- they are a great way to end a day. I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Mr. Appel for sharing this with me.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘Quincy’s mother had taken his stepfather’s death reasonably well, or so it seemed’

Once reading one of the Appel novels/books an addiction occurs. That Jacob M Appel is such an extraordinarily fine writer, certainly among the top rung of serious authors in America at present, seems foremost in a resume of his achievements – a collection of his books such as THE BIOLOGY OF LUCK, SCOUTING FOR THE REAPER, MIRACLES AND CONUNDRUMS OF THE SECONDARY PLANETS, EINTSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE and PHONING HOME - u
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Honored to have an early look at Appel's latest --

Jacob Appel is at the top of his game in THE TOPLESS WIDOW OF HERKIMER STREET, his delightfully quirky, ever smart, and moving new collection. In these eight keenly-observed stories, Appel's endearing if flawed characters find themselves in the throes of tough choices where there are no easy answers. Circumstances may skew absurd -- topless widow? 61 iron lungs? genie in a bottle, anyone? -- but Appel's humanity is real and unwavering, particular
Becky Loader
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh, what lovely short stories these are! Winner of the 2016 Howling Bird Press Fiction Award, Appel deserves that prize and more.

I cannot pick a favorite, but my favorite opening line is:
"Early one morning, while walking his dog on a stretch of pristine and windswept beach, the veterinarian stumbled upon a genie in an ordinary bottle." So, who hasn't wanted to do that?

Appel prose is deep, without being stiff. He draws the reader into the character quickly, and you identify with his/her emotions
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has many characters in different stories and my favorite was: The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street. I can see this story played out any where in the world. Do not ever under estimate women of any age, especially the mature version. She knows her own mind and will do as she pleases. I loved this story and the rest. Makes for a nice afternoon read.
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Once I began reading the first story in The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street, the short story collection by Jacob M. Appel, I knew I had something special in front of me. There are eight stories and each one is original, beautifully written and meaningful. The opening story, The Current Occupant, is about a man who buys a house online. After the house briefly goes missing he does find it and the surprising occupant. The title story, The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street, is a real gem with an imp ...more
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
***I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway***

This book is really closer to 3.5 stars.....

I wasn't really sure what to expect. I am always hesitant to read a collection of short stories because I'm fearful I won't have enough time to fall in love with the characters before they are extinguished with a period as the author pushes you to move on to the next story.
Appel manages to find the perfect pace on the journey, lingering enough to love them and moving on when a new journey beckons. I en
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"My breasts will be lost to history—like Joan of Arc's or Helen of Troy's."

Jacob M. Appel has really outdone himself with this collection of eight short stories. Every single story was thought-provoking and exciting to read on so many levels, and the intensity of some of the stories left me quite stunned. When I started reading this collection, I told myself I'd just read a few chapters then take a break, but I really could not stop myself from finishing this collection almost immediately after
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
This is the first collection of short stories that I've read by Jacob M. Appel, and I really enjoyed it. Of all the stories in the book, however, my favorite was the title story "The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street." This story was refreshingly imaginative, warm, humorous, and touching. It's easy to see why Appel has won an award for his story collection. Check it out for a truly entertaining read. I highly recommend it to the reading community.
Bonnye Reed
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keepers, favorites
GNAB I received a gifted copy of this collection of short stories from Jacob M. Appel. Thank you so much for sharing your work with me! It's always a pleasure to read your short stories....

The characters who flow through these eight stories feel like friends - some could be family. All are compelling. Some are sad, some are funny, all will make you stop and think about quality vs. quantity and rethink your personal legacy. This is a keeper. I will want to read this again.
Glassworks Magazine
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jacob Appel’s The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street proposes an intriguing question, and with it, a particular view on and of society. While it may play fast and loose with both extremes of logic, insisting on familiar reality at times and abandoning it to implausibility at others, its characters struggle with that compelling question of choice and consequence, often long after they have resigned themselves to passively letting their lives play out.
The opening story “The Current Occupant” is one
Shawn Amos
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-thing
Man, oh man- this gentleman is brilliant! I might have guessed an "American author, bioethicist, physician, lawyer and social critic" according to Wikipedia, would produce some stellar writing, but still wasn't prepared for how fully invested I'd be in each story in Jacob M. Appel's The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street! The characters are so very developed and the dialogue is beyond reproach, something I fully appreciate since I struggle with it so much in my own writing. Tied together by the t
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

Wow. This collection was so far and above what I'd expected when I entered for a chance at winning a copy. Jacob M. Appel's ability to fill a story with life and populate it with characters that feel real is among the best I've ever encountered. That he can then take those characters, quirky yes, but so grounded in everyday life, and thrust them into situations that are so off-kilter they almost border on the absurd and have it work, felt like a magic
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street doesn't lack the basics of a good short story collection. Engaging characters, plots that stretch beyond what is written on the page, and (most importantly) good writing. The book is mostly made up of short stories that are as you think they would be, with one or two that are bit more funny or romantic than the others.

My absolute favorite of the collection was Towards Uncharted Waters. Without giving too much away, I feel it was the best representation of App
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5/5 stars

I loved this book. Usually, collections of short stories are hit or miss, with a couple of gems and a few that leave me cold. Every story is this book was funny, poignant, and slightly unsettling. The characters were believable and well-drawn, and the plots had a quirky twist that made them different.

It's hard to pick a favourite but I'm going with The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street, about an woman regaining her self-identity after years of marriage and motherhood, much to her son's
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic collection! Loved all of the stories in this book and have read a couple of them out loud to clients. My personal favorite was the title story, I laughed out loud at some parts and shared this story with others who also thought it was hilarious. I read through the book once and then shared several stories with others. Willing to share this book as long as I get it back LOL as I will read this again in the future for sure. Jacob is an amazing author who makes the characters feel ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
An eclectic mix of stories, each delightful in its own right. And each could be the catalyst for a book because they draw you in that much. Quite an enjoyable read, I wish I hadn't come to the end so quickly. Looking forward to reading more of Jacob's work. This book was perfect for the last couple of days when my attention span was on the short side. Easy to pick up and put down without having to figure out where I left off. Two thumbs up!
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All my family and friends.
This is a fabulous collection of very well-written stories! The stories are engaging and deal with a plethora of issues. The characters and their emotions are relatable and written in such a way that you cannot help but reflect on your life, people in your life, and your own future. I definitely recommend this book to all my friends and family.

*I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. The format was Paperback.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Wonderful book several short stories. And I agree with the widow why can't us girls walk without our shirt lol. I highly recommend this book
Robert Blumenthal
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another winning collection from a true master of the short story. Jacob has published a rather large collection of short tales, and each one is on a par of mastery as every other. If there were an award for being the most prolific writer of quality short fiction, Jacob would be a definite contender.

In this group, there is the general theme of people struggling with love and life in general, with many impediments placed in their way (loss of loved ones, accidents greatly affecting the everyday li
Karen Heuler
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Two stories stood out for me in this consistently good collection. The title story, about a man whose mother decides to go topless in her yard, amid the objections of neighbors and the frustrations of the police, has a wonderful premise, exactly the same mix of sadness and exasperation that seems to be Appel's mainstay. What is she proving? Is it worth the mess she creates? And how is a son to cope when his mother is determined to frustrate his plans to prevent her public displays? It's not so m ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This is a book to savor. I recommend NOT reading it all in one sitting, rather reading one of these delightful stories daily so you can savor them for the rest of the day.

Immediately likable, quirky characters inhabit the pages of this book engaging in unusual (but understandable) behaviors and circumstances that range from finding a genie in a bottle to tough end of life decisions. I would put Appel's writing skills right up with the best. He knows how to write colorfully descriptive prose with
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I received a copy of this book for free directly from the author.

Another fantastic collection of short stories from Jacob M. Appel!

This is the fifth collection of Appel's I've read and I have enjoyed them all immensely. This collection is a bit more hopeful and lighthearted in tone than the other collections I've read which are generally a melancholic tone. I usually don't single out stories within a collection, but I have to mention that the stories One Wish and Toward Uncharted Waters were bo
Ann Welton
Jacob Appel’s latest collection of eight short stories, The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street, is again written with the same superb style of his previous short story novels. “Current Occupant” is a thought-provoking story of a retired couple who invest their savings in an internet, manufactured home for their retirement years, and what follows their purchase. “One Wish” is a bit like an adult fairy tale, but believable, and “Long Term” is about an oncologist who wants his 61 old iron lungs to be ...more
J.L. Jones
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I read multiple books at a time; therefore it usually takes me a while to finish a single book. Not this one. It took me only three days (I had to eat and sleep and occasionally work) to finish Jacob Appel’s book. It was that good.

I’m a sucker for short stories and these did not disappoint. They were at turns sad, weird, funny and witty. Most of all, they kept me engrossed and I was left wanting more.

This was the first time I’d read any of Appel’s stories but I am now definitely a fan!

In the in
Aug 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
Pleasantly written short stories about ordinary people in more or less ordinary situations. Each story had a slightly absurd angle to it but not enough to feel like these people couldn't be your neighbors, or even yourself. One story about a courtship taking place through Wikipedia edits was absurd enough to be unrealistic and annoying and I would have preferred to have seen it left out. Overall it felt like spending an afternoon catching up with the latest town gossip. The biggest drawback was ...more
Katie B
Another great collection of short stories by Jacob M. Appel. All of the stories are entertaining but my personal favorite is The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street which also is the title of this collection. What appeared to be a funny situation of a son trying to convince his elderly mother not to sunbathe turned into something with a deeper meaning. That's what I like about this writer. His stories are fun to read but have depth as well.

I received a free copy of this book and that is my honest r
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**Please note: A limited number of complimentary electronic copies of several of my books are available for review. Please email me directly if you are interested**

Jacob M. Appel's 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, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than tw