Alex B. Stone was born in Poland and lived most of his adult life in the Midwest. He began writing fiction in middle age and carried on until about ten years before his death in 2015. He portrayed characters who were both prosperous and off-center within the larger culture. Said Professor David McFarland: "His stories connect on a level where most people live, in the day-to-day, where small decisions, good and bad, reveal a person's quality, morality and, finally, what or who is loved."
Upon publication of Tales from the Prayer House in 2011, Postern Press asked Alex about his work.
POSTERN PRESS: You’ve been writing for many years. What got you started?
ALEX STONE: I started writing when our son Lewis graduated Augustana College, left home for post grad at Florida State University and University of Florida. Sent him a weekly events letter. When he died five years later, I continued to write in note books - vented my experiences in a collection of short stories first published by Augustana College - A Sabbath Walk - encouraged by Professor Roald Tweet of the English department, Lewis's teacher at Augustana. I went to University of Iowa Writers Workshop, writing short stories, novels, plays.
PP: Were there other writers you admired?
AS: I read all of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, John O'Hara and the Jewish writers - Malamud, Roth - and always John Updike and Cheever’s short stories.
PP: Jewish culture animates your work. The themes are universal. Any comment?
AS: I am part of the Jewish Heritage - attended Rabbi's classes - attended services - listened to sermons and still do.
PP: There are a lot of references to art in your books and stories. Is this a lifelong interest of yours?
AS: I began a collection of American lithographs and European masters fifty years ago - bought and spent no more than fifty dollars as gift occasions. Studied art books, visited the New York, Chicago, San Francisco museums and galleries, along with the University of Iowa and Figge Art Museum. Subscribed to auction catalogues from Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Bought art books in French, German and English. Expanded our collection as our financial means grew over the fifty plus years. I’ve quit collecting but have still been studying the past 15 years. I still cooperate with the Figge and Augustana museums by lending paintings and graphics to them for exhibition.
PP: Your portraits of Jewish life in a mid-sized Midwest city are particularly detailed. Drawn from life, we assume?
AS: Jewish life in small Midwest town is and was our life. Tales from the Prayer House incidents are fiction, but backgrounds did exist until twenty years ago. This book gave me a chance to imagine what the religious observant do with their lives between morning and afternoon and evening prayers.