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Honeydew : Stories
by Edith Pearlman


Overview -
  • NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington Post
  • TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor
  • BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Wall Street Journal, NPR, Kirkus, Fresh Air (Maureen Corrigan), San Francisco Chronicle
  • TOP TITLES FOR GIFT GIVING: Chicago Tribune
Longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award -- and a nationwide bestseller.
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More About Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
 
 
 
Overview
  • NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington Post
  • TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor
  • BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Wall Street Journal, NPR, Kirkus, Fresh Air (Maureen Corrigan), San Francisco Chronicle
  • TOP TITLES FOR GIFT GIVING: Chicago Tribune
Longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award -- and a nationwide bestseller.
Over the past several decades, Edith Pearlman has staked her claim as one of the all-time great practitioners of the short story. Her incomparable vision, consummate skill, and bighearted spirit have earned her consistent comparisons to Anton Chekhov, John Updike, Alice Munro, Grace Paley, and Frank O'Connor. Her latest work, gathered in this stunning collection of twenty new stories, is an occasion for celebration.
Pearlman writes with warmth about the predicaments of being human. The title story involves an affair, an illegitimate pregnancy, anorexia, and adolescent drug use, but the true excitement comes from the evocation of the interior lives of young Emily Knapp, who wishes she were a bug, and her inner circle. "The Golden Swan" transports the reader to a cruise ship with lavish buffets-and a surprise stowaway-while the lead story, "Tenderfoot," follows a widowed pedicurist searching for love with a new customer anguishing over his own buried trauma. Whether the characters we encounter are a special child with pentachromatic vision, a group of displaced Somali women adjusting to life in suburban Boston, or a staid professor of Latin unsettled by a random invitation to lecture on the mystery of life and death, Pearlman knows each of them intimately and reveals them to us with unsurpassed generosity.

In prose as knowing as it is poetic, Pearlman shines a light on small, devastatingly precise moments to reflect the beauty and grace found in everyday life. Both for its artistry and for the recognizable lives of the characters it renders so exquisitely and compassionately, Honeydew is a collection that will pull readers back time and again. These stories are a crowning achievement for a brilliant career and demonstrate once more that Pearlman is a master of the form whose vision is unfailingly wise and forgiving.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780316297226
  • ISBN-10: 0316297224
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co
  • Publish Date: January 2015
  • Page Count: 279


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Short Stories (single author)

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-11-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

Following Binocular Vision, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, Pearlman offers this affecting collection that periscopes into small lives, expanding them with stunning subtlety. The title story is a perfect case in point, a snapshot of a private girls’ school in Massachusetts, where Alice, the respectable headmistress, has become pregnant by Richard, the father of Emily, a troubled but brilliant 11th grader. In this story, as in others, the relationships of the characters reflect the “nature of people to defy their own best interests.” In “Puck,” also set in a small Massachusetts town, antique store owner Rennie, “known for discretion and restraint,” is drawn to Ophelia, a customer who confesses to a love affair. Rennie breaks “cardinal rule one” and advises Ophelia to pursue another customer. Rennie’s heart opens wider in the moving “Assisted Living,” in which she lets the elderly Muffy help out at the antique store, and then is required to dispose of Muffy’s treasures as a series of accidents leads to an inevitable decline. Other gems include the magical “Dream Children,” in which nanny Willa and the father of her ailing charge discover the depth of their connections to the child, and the sensual “Tenderfoot,” in which widow and “expert listener” Paige and newly single Bobby—whose wife left him after he refused to stop to help out at a car accident—connect over their shared fate as “survivors now doomed to mourn until the end of their own days.” (Jan.)

 
BookPage Reviews

An intriguing collection of character studies

Edith Pearlman has been publishing award-winning stories since the late 1970s, but became more widely known in 2012, when her story collection Binocular Vision won both the PEN/Malamud and National Book Critics Circle awards and was a finalist for numerous others. Her new collection, Honeydew, gathers tales from the last 15 years, each one a closely observed look at the ordinary graces and sorrows of everyday life.

Most of the stories in Honeydew take place in Goldolphin, a fictional suburb of Boston peopled with professors, beauticians and shopkeepers. In “Dream Children,” an au pair finds frightening paintings of her charges hidden around the house and discovers that the images are created with the same intent that keeps her secretly brewing herbal potions for the children’s continued good health. The title story (included in The Best American Short Stories 2012) encompasses infidelity, pregnancy and an anorexic teenager who imagines herself as an insect, yet, by the story’s close, a new baby is born, weight is cautiously regained and relationships have shifted into more harmonious circumstances. At least for the time being.

Many of Pearlman’s most memorable characters are observers and listeners. In linked stories (“Puck,” “Assisted Living”), Rennie, the proprietor of the antique store Forget-Me-Not, keeps as close an eye on her customers as she does the teapots and Victorian jewelry in her shop. In one of the collection’s most vivid stories, “Wait and See,” Lyle is born with pentachromatic vision, a condition that allows him to see depths and variations of color that most humans aren’t privy to—and which proves to be both a blessing and a curse.

Like Lyle’s vision, Pearlman’s prose shimmers, and the stories are filled with beguiling details of color, taste and smell. Pearlman knows—and seems to care about—each of her characters, even the most irritating, and no matter their age, gender or race, they are drawn incisively and with empathy. Though the collection lacks the range of Binocular Vision, Honeydew is a solid group of stories by a very great writer indeed.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews