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How to Fall


Edith Pearlman

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Edith Pearlman manages to combine subtlety with extravagance, understatement with spectacle, drawing our focus to the eccentricities of those who would prefer to remain unnoticed. . . . Confronted with unexpected obstacles, these characters exchange the blurring comfort of routine with spontaneity and improvisation . . . . Full of vivid, intricate, nuanced portraits, confidently focused, restrained and yet spirited, saturated with a powerful imaginative sympathy, How to Fall is a remarkable collection by a remarkable writer.—From the Foreword by Joanna Scott

How to Fall is a darkly humorous collection that welcomes the world’s immense variety with confidence. Spanning no fewer than four countries in sixty years, these sixteen stories flesh out the complexities of people who, at first glance, live ordinary, unremarkable lives. Widowers, old men, estranged spouses, young restaurant workers, career women and Jewish grandmothers are all at the center of Pearlman’s cool, studied observation. Each character is rendered with such unpredictable intricacy that they often astonish themselves just as much as the reader. Many of the stories either begin or wind their way back to one, mythical, two-by-three-mile Massachusetts town—Godolphin, a place that “called itself a town but was really a leafy wedge of Boston.”

Edith Pearlman has published over 100 stories in national magazines, literary journals, anthologies and online publications. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize collection, New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best and The Pushcart Prize collection. Her first collection of stories, Vaquita, won the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature, and her second, Love Among the Greats, won the Spokane Prize for Fiction. She now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jan 17, 2005 – In her third delicately eccentric collection of short stories, the underappreciated Pearlman (Vaquita; Love Among the Greats) pegs characters as diverse as a comedian's silent sidekick, a 17-year-old girl newly independent from her two mothers and a PBS anchor who bemoans after a makeover, "You're not attractive, you know—you only look attractive." More than half of the stories are set in Godolphin, a fictional Boston suburb where daily life is enacted in all its glorious monotony; several explore the mixed emotions roused by charity. In "The Large Lady," an uncomely representative of a fund-raising organization for starving kids manages to shake a gathering of suburban do-gooders from their complaisance, prompting one guest to reflect "Hell gapes for the merely empathic"; in "Rules," a dour mother and her home-schooled daughter rile the volunteers at a soup kitchen. Other stories revolve around twosomes: in "Home Schooling," twin sisters Willy and Harry share a non-traditional childhood; in "Signs of Life," Clara and Valerie have lived through the extraordinary and unimaginable, but consider themselves simply old and in love; in "Shenanigans" the elderly mothers of a dating couple meet and become friends: "They were each other's destiny, hinted the tall old Jewess. The tiny flower of Erin concurred." Pearlman's light touch and wry tone give the stories a pleasant buoyancy.
How to Fall
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: Feb 01, 2005
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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