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Honeydew by Edith Pearlman
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Honeydew (2015)

by Edith Pearlman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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204757,485 (3.73)47
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    The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: I suspect that memoirist Howard Axelrod would feel right at home among the characters in Edith Pearlman's fictional Goldophin, Massachusetts.
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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
In Edith Pearlman's back-flap author bio, she's described as "a New Englander by both birth and preference." I'm neither of these, although I live in New England, but I still resonated with Pearlman's stories, perhaps because Pearlman doesn't write with an unabashed love for the region. She writes about New England almost like one would write about a beloved family member or spouse if one were to write truthfully about the ambivalent feelings that often characterize close relationships. Mostly she's not writing about the region itself but about the people in it, but I'm not sure one can separate these very well, especially in a place with such an established culture (for the United States, at least). Write about one and you're writing about the other.

Although I used to read short stories all of the time, I've been preferring to read novels the past several years. When I go back to short stories, I tend to read those written by my contemporaries or near contemporaries, and I'm frequently irritated with the self-conscious cool that pervades their writing. There's one (or maybe two) in this collection that leave things gratuitously vague like the stories of my nearer age-mates, but the vast majority are tightly woven and purposeful, filled with the true emotion that the best fiction evokes.

At least one of these stories appears originally to have been published in the 1980's when Pearlman was closer to my age now, and this isn't the vague one, so I'm not sure if the difference is age-related or if it's generational or maybe it's just an individual quality. Whatever it is, I enjoyed reading these stories. They remind me a bit of Alice Munro's stories, but it's been several years since I read Alice Munro, so maybe I'm just making up that similarity.

I like all of the stories in this book, but I especially love "Deliverance," "Blessed Harry," "Castle 4," "Sonny," "Wait and See," and the title story, "Honeydew." If I spent a little more time, I could probably find a common thread that would explain why these stories stand out from the others for me, but it's late, so I'll just leave those titles here and wonder: if I wrote thousands or millions of words, would I be able to create stories like these? Or do they spring from some quality that defies practice? ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jan 31, 2017 |
The characters in Edith Pearlman's short story collection Honeydew live in fictional Goldophin, Massachusetts. They are a cerebral lot. There is a man who brings a volume on the Late Roman Empire to his pedicure appointment ("Tenderfoot"), a security guard who reads Dawkins ("Castle 4"), and a father who trades lines from Ovid with his children ("Blessed Harry") in the original Latin. There are also a number of physicians looking for love, and at least two very skinny high school girls, one an expert on ants, who are aiming for Harvard ("Sonny", "Honeydew"). Despite their shared setting, the stories are unconnected, and they rely on character development rather than plot for their appeal.

Pearlman's short slices of life generally end without resolution. Some of them (most notably "Castle 4") could have been expanded into novels. I admired these stories, but I also felt distant from them. I didn't feel that they had anything to do with me, or with anyone I know.

This collection is worth reading for those who appreciate (and are used to) an erudite approach to the short story form. ( )
1 vote akblanchard | Sep 14, 2015 |
I am so very glad that Edith Pearlman at age 79 has achieved national recognition for her last 2 collections of short stories. If you like short stories and like Alice Munro then you should read Pearlman. Her prose is excellent. The stories are in the 15-20 page range and show an astonishing creativity and uniqueness of subject matter. Much of her subject matter deals with mostly educated upper middle class people. The location is mainly New England and specifically a fictional town outside of Boston. Because they are short stories, they are worth a try. If you like the first one then I am sure you will like the rest. I previously read and reviewed "Binocular Vision and give it 5 stars which lately has been very rare for me. Give her a try. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Aug 28, 2015 |
This collection of twenty stories, many of which are set in Godolphin, Massachusetts, and thematically explore a variety of secrets and confessions, showcase author Edith Pearlman's talent with the form.

It's hard to summarize a short story collection without being simplistic, and I won't do it the injustice of trying to say too much about it as a whole. The author's great strengths are her ability to portray sympathetic, realistic characters and conveying a complete story in a very short amount of space. I never once was left feeling like she should have said more. Sometimes characters reappear, and it's fun recognizing them in a different story. My two personal favorites were "Blessed Harry" and "Flowers," maybe because each had a touch of whimsy when many of the stories in the collection had a more serious tone. "Blessed Harry" tells the story of a family that seems cobbled together but is truly loving and functional, and their houseplant that somehow lives despite reflecting its family's quirks. "Flowers" is... well, hard to explain without giving it all away, because what I loved most was the ending. Highly recommended to short story lovers, though personally my preference is for Binocular Vision. ( )
  bell7 | Feb 12, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edith Pearlmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bang, SophieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harms, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316297224, Hardcover)

A new story collection from the author of Binocular Vision, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the National Book Award.


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.


(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:52 -0400)

Presents a collection of short stories full of teenage drug use, anorexia, cruise-ship stowaways, and a widowed nail tech who finds herself falling for a client.

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