When I began reading the first of the 21 stories captured in Acting on the Island and Other Prince Edward Island Stories: New And Selected, by J. J. Steinfeld, my first thought was: wow, this is one talented writer, with an incredible imagination. I started with the first story, Godot’s Leafless Tree, and quickly sped along to the others. These stories kept me entertained, interested, and yearning to return to Prince Edward Island, where I have not been back to visit for years. Each tale reminded me of the Island, known to so many for its red sand beauty, Anne of Green Gables, tourism, lobster, and welcoming residents. But what I also received was a good look into the quirkiness of the Islanders, their strong love of home, the feel of what an Islander is deep within their heart, the pride of the people of P.E. I. for living in the “Cradle of Confederation”, and how greatly and effortlessly the author, Mr. Steinfeld, can weave a story!
Each of the stories within Acting on the Island and Other Prince Edward Island Stories: New And Selected is but a few pages long, however, I got the full gist of each and every character, and I did indeed enjoy them. These stories had me smiling: the man who landed a job watching tv in the front window of a Charlottetown department store in A Television-Watching Artist (With apologies to Franz Kafka); picking sides while joining a barroom encounter between Isaac Katzman and a German’s locked jewelry box, in a Charlottetown bar, in The Heart; laughing at a bold new look for Anne of Green Gables, where we meet a psychiatrist (or two) falling for his patient who believes herself to be Anne Shirley, In the Mind of Love; and a story to steal my heart and perfectly end the collection, I’m Waiting for You, My Dear Old Friend.
These are only a few of the characters I met in Acting on the Island. The book is filled with people and tales I was happy to explore if only to mine their meaning and have them escort me into an introduction of Mr. Steinfeld’s impressive talent as a writer. Upon further research, I find that J. J. Steinfeld is also a poet and playwright, he does indeed live on Prince Edward Island, and he has published twenty-three books! This is my first encounter with this skillful writer, but it will not be my last! Mr. Steinfeld certainly has the ability to delve into his craft and provide entertainment that had me thinking about, as written on the back of the book, “the human condition while confronting the chaotic, painful, and sometimes strange aspects of history and people’s lives, both ordinary and extraordinary”.
Whether you begin in the middle of the book or begin at the beginning, this selection of short stories will impress the busiest of readers. The stories are not connected and can be read one at a time while reading between making batches of cookies, as I like to do, or feasted upon in large chunks, as I also like to do. I routinely flipped open the book to see which thought-provoking tale would be the blindfolded pick on any given day, and today the page opened to Flowers for the Vases, where, smiling, I reread: “’Hell is other people,’ the woman repeated, behaving as if she had just fallen upon a ponderous insight by herself. ‘Sartre must have been a pleasant man. Or one of those guys who drive the tourists around the Island in double-decker buses all summer. Those drivers couldn’t possibly stay fond of people, exactly like Sartre. Sartre must have driven one of those infernal double-decker buses.’”
Acting on the Island and Other Prince Edward Island Stories: New And Selected by J.J. Steinfeld is a welcome addition to my bookshelf and one to which I will be returning for a boost of fun, entertainment, and insight, many more times. Thanks to Pottersfield Press and The Miramichi Reader for this gifted copy. For an extra treat, I headed over to my computer to listen to author J.J. Steinfeld read I’m Waiting for You, My Dear Old Friend, kindly posted by his publisher.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Acting on the Island and it made me feel as though I have indeed returned to the beautiful Island of P.E.I. I will leave you with a final quote by J.J. Steinfeld from his story I’m Waiting for You, My Dear Old Friend, “…running is a constant in my life, from as long as I can remember. Sometimes I think I’ve run over the entire Island, traversed every bit of land, and whether you can see them or not, my footprints, like embedded memories, are everywhere.”
These stories are embedded memories for me. My last thought is not unlike my first thought, upon completion of this collection: WOW! This is one talented writer, with an incredible imagination!
About the Author
Fiction writer, poet, and playwright, J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he published twenty books.
- Publisher : Pottersfield Press (Feb. 9 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 260 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1989725732
- ISBN-13 : 978-1989725733
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Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere. She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.