Winner of the first annual Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, Love Among the Greats is a magnificent world tour of characters, tones, and fictional structures, rendered with a stunning restraint and clarity reminiscent of Joyce's Dubliners.
Edith Pearlman's characters are children, old women, young men, rabbis, toy makers, lovers, invalids, immigrants, schmoozers, angels, and fools; all of them perfectly real and accessible, all of them drawn with a kind of comic quietude that only excellent writers can sustain.
The title story begins: “At the dinner following Michal's wedding to Bellamy they did the chair thing. It was a Jewish wedding, after all – as Jewish as a wedding could be when the bride's mother was not Jewish and therefore the bride, strictly speaking, was not Jewish either; as Jewish as a wedding could be in a prairie college town where the one synagogue, struggling to keep solvent, rented itself out weekdays to Alcoholics Anonymous and a quilting group.”
Readers are going to love these polished and unusual stories.
“Although the English language is famously deficient in describing the myriad forms of love, Pearlman's stories expand our vocabulary...at turns passionate, at turns spiritual, sometimes unrequited, often noble. Like all good fiction, the stories in Love Among The Greats cast a spell, leaving the reader… dazed and wistful, deliciously melancholy, and perhaps a bit wiser.”
- Body and Soul
“Pearlman paints a poignant, evocative series of portraits in her second short story collection bringing her wide-ranging curiosity and intelligence to bear on an assemblage of unusual characters.”
- Publishers' Weekly
“A masterpiece of time and place; an entry into a world that's at once nostalgic and contemporary.”
- The Monadnock Ledger
“Edith Pearlman's second collection of short stories offers subtle, sophisticated and philosophical glimpses of what might have been ignored as “ordinary” life. She has a gift for compressing whole lifetimes into seven or eight pages.”
- The Jewish Advocate
I would like to say that my mother seemed particularly relaxed during that Thanksgiving meal that was, for once, expertly served. But my mother usually seemed relaxed - maybe three times in the previous fifteen years she had expressed agitation. There was the time Dad went into the hospital with pneumonia; her eyes looked like raccoons' for several days. There was the summer I cracked my head on the diving board trying to do a back flip and all night long had to be woken up so that a light could be shined into my pupils to make sure they were still the same size. Each time my mother whitely grimaced behind the flashlight, terrifying me. And then there was the airplane incident; our plane to New York dropped a thousand feet in half a second, and chicken breasts bounced off reading lights. We were on the right side of the aisle. My mother, in the seat near the window, reached her left hand across me towards Dad. She grabbed his seat belt first, and then his regular belt, and then he dislodged her fingers from the leather and held her hand between his two palms. I watched him do it. I looked at her. She didn't say anything, just kept her hand in Dad's and stared at me over her shoulder, her head at an awkward angle, her eyes spilling indigo behind her glasses. People were yelling. The plane shuddered again. She withdrew her left hand from Dad's gentle hold and slid her arm back. On its journey it caressed my belly. She gripped her own chair; and now, reaching across with her right arm, she could face me comfortably, if comfort had anything to do with the experience. She found Dad's hand again -- I felt her forearm clutch -- and then she kissed me, full on the mouth. It was my first kiss, actually. But even in that moment of probable farewell, my mother wasn't really agitated. She just wasn't what you'd call composed. The plane stopped shaking, and we landed safely a little while later.