I have grown wary of new short story collections. So often, the authors seem to stuff them overly full with too much emotion, too much action. I look for short stories that use their format to serve their purpose. What can be accomplished in 15 pages? Who can be introduced? Pearlman’s a master. You will dive right into her world of Godolphin, MA. I don’t know if you’d want to live there, but you will recognize the people, the emotions, the small moments. Her stories – from first to last – are ones that will prompt a small gasp from the reader before s/he moves on to the next one. The final story – “Self-Reliance” – is a perfect example. Just when I thought this one had gotten away from her – tomatoes and a character hanging out on the edge of the story – made it the perfect way to end this fabulous book.
I am always curious why certain authors flourish and others become so popular. Based on Ann Patchett’s excellent introduction, there was certainly a secret society of fans. Thanks to this new edition, I am sure there will be many more. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award.