Contributor Spotlight: Jacob M. Appel

Jacob M. Appel’s short story, “Hue and Cry” appeared in our Summer ’16 issue and can be read here.

Tells us a little about “Hue and Cry.”

“Hue and Cry” is nominally a story about young girls spying on a sex offender, but i I like to think that it’s actually a piece about forgiveness.  We have an excess of justice in our society and a striking dearth of mercy:  one can see this in our politics, in our literature, and all too often in our daily lives.  For a country built upon a religion that teaches people to turn the other cheek, we’ve become a people who prefer to cast the first stones.  Sex offenders, needless to say, are among the easiest targets.  The father in “Hue and Cry,” for better or worse, is a man who embraces mercy—even at great personal expense.

What was the most difficult part of writing this story.

Creating a man who stands up for pedophiles, yet remains sympathetic, is no easy feat.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

Only one??? You’ll have to settle for two:  Kevin Brockmeier’s memoir of seventh grade, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, and Sara Lippmann’s short story collection, The Doll Palace.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t pitch a brilliant recent novel by my former student, CJ Hauser, titled The From-Aways.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?

I don’t drink—but I suppose you’ll settle for a metaphorical drink.  If the drink could be at a romantic candlelit restaurant, I’d probably vote for Karen Russell….that’s the closest I’m going to get to a date with a genius.  Of course, I imagine she’d prefer we have our metaphorical drink in a heavily-trafficked public place, accompanied by a chaperone.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I have two short story collections coming out later this year:  Coulrophobia & Fata Morgana with Black Lawrence and The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street with Howling Bird/Augsburg.  If any of your readers would like a free PDF ofCoulrophobia & Fata Morgana, they can email me at   Right now, I’m working on assembling an exercise bike while I wait on hold with Delta Airlines in an effort to change an upcoming flight….I plan to be done with both endeavors by early 2018.

Our thanks to Jacob for taking the time to answer a few questions and share his work. Read “Hue and Cry” here:


Jacob M. Appel’s most recent books include the story collection, Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets, and the essay collection, Phoning Home.  He teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and practices medicine in New York City.  “Hue and Cry” first appeared in The Gettysburg Review (2012) and is included in the story collection Einstein’s Beach House (Pressgang/Butler University, 2014).  More at: