On How Not to Kill a Spider

Alex Epstein, translated by Becka Mara McKay

Cover the spider with a small, shallow dish, such as a soap dish. Tilt the soap dish a little, and slip a piece of paper under it. Take the paper covered with the soap dish to a window. Carefully lift the soap dish and blow on the spider until it slides from the paper and out the window. Seventy percent of people who commit suicide by jumping from a high floor—I learned this from a study—feel remorse on their way down. I have no idea who volunteered to participate in this study, and at exactly which stage on the way down it was conducted. Aside from the method described here, there are many other ways to leave a small impression on the world.

Alex Epstein was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1971 and moved to Israel when he was eight years old. He is the author of four collections of short stories and three novels; his work has also been translated into Russian, French, Greek, Spanish, Hungarian, Dutch, Croatian, Polish, and Italian. In 2003 he was awarded Israel’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature. In 2007 he participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He writes literary reviews for several newspapers and teaches creative writing in Tel Aviv. His short-short stories have appeared in English in the Kenyon ReviewWords Without Borders, The Iowa ReviewRhinoZeek, and Natural Bridge.

Becka Mara McKay teaches translation and creative writing at Florida Atlantic University. Her first book of poems, A Meteorologist in the Promised Land, was published in 2010 by Shearsman Books. Her translation, from the Hebrew, of the novel Laundry by Suzane Adam was published by Autumn Hill Books in 2008, and her translation of Alex Epstein's Blue Has No South came out with Clockroot Books in 2010. She has received awards and grants from the Seattle Arts Commission and the American Literary Translators Association, and a Witter Byner Poetry Translation Residency.