Ephraim’s Eyes


The characters in this collection of stories by Bryan Walpert have each had their lives disrupted by personal tragedy. Left to face up to both their responsibility and lack of control over the events, characters weave their own stories and enter into their own worlds as they psychologically resist grief but are driven to explain. Bryan Walpert’s intriguing, well-crafted stories span the realms of philosophy, astronomy, mycology, super heroes, science fiction and religion. Hopping between America and New Zealand, he explores the human need to rationalize experiences and the way these explanations change over time.

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Sample Story
16 Planets (The Listener/ Winner, Royal Society of NZ Manhire Prize in Creative Science Writing)


“In this, his first collection of short stories, New Zealand author Bryan Walpert tackles tragedy, how it invades our lives and how we take refuge from it. Whether it’s the sudden and violent death of a beloved spouse or the sickening realisation that the promise we were once sure we held has evaporated while we weren’t looking, each story revolves around loss and pain. Walpert’s deceptively meandering style hides a sharp punch to your gut as he leads us through the manifold ways we meet grief and disappointment. Some hide, some obsess, some flee into fantasy, and others hold on to their sanity with whitened knuckles. It’s a slim volume, but Walpert’s stories jump through matters as diverse as ecology, mycology, super-hero mythology, the role of the olive through history and Buddhism. It’s an impressive collection with stories that resonate with compassion and insight.” — Robin Lewis, LeftLion Magazine

“These stories are extraordinary things…As his poetry does so wonderfully, Bryan’s stories use language and the prism of science and philosophy to try to rein in and explain the vicissitudes of life and the resulting anguish of the people who suffer at its hands. Bryan has said: ‘I think for me, as a writer, the way to the heart is often through the head.’ Hence the lack of sentimentality, hence the careful, erudite and skilful writing that gives you deep rivers of emotion but without once leaning in from the important task of rowing the boat to trail its hand in the water…The stories delight, too, with their erudition – this writer’s mind is like the beautiful numbers his character in the story ‘Word Problems’ loves so much, and many times I pondered on the apposite cover of his book: the interlocking Russian dolls which are part of the title story and emblematic of the dense and layered thinking here as well as the stories within stories…But Ephraim’s Eyes is most emphatically not a bunch of cerebral ramblings. The  muscle of the stories is in the well-wrought complex characters [with] pitch-perfect voices who live ordinary lives alight with detail (in NZ and the US), and undertake work that is both authentic and fascinating.” — Mary McCallum (read full review)

“Walpert has a great sense of the absurd, while remaining utterly human and untouched by cynicism…Walpert brings forth his mastery of the short story by putting a great many of his ideas into a minimum of word space…The stories are full of interesting complexities and touch the reader without losing any of their power.” — Patricia Prime, Takahe

Goodreads Review Excerpts:

“This book is written by a very talented author. Bryan Walpert has a unique way of setting up a story, with most of the stories in this book very little “extra” information was given to the reader making them thirsty for more and more information about who the character is and why…Fantastic insight…I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it!”

“Very curious stories. Definitely entertaining. I like how Walpert gets inside his characters’ heads and not only shows what they are thinking, but by subtle hints what they are hiding from themselves. I really like his technique of having a character describe a hypothetical situation that you absolutely know is the closest thing yet as to what is really happening, just distanced from themselves emotionally by being described as hypothetical. Walpert handles emotion well.”

“An unusual collection of short stories about feelings and perceptions. Most had a little twist or surprise towards the end. Some are rather odd but strangely haunting and sad. Cleverly written!”