Binocular Vision includes 18 stories from the previous three books and three early stories never collected.
It includes also 13 new stories, in which Edith Pearlman's favorite theme of accommodation continues, as well as the themes of young love, old love, thwarted love, and love denied; of Jews and their dilemmas; of marriage, family, death, and betrayal. The settings are Maine, Central America, Hungary, Tsarist Russia, and the town of Godolphin, Massachusetts, by now familiar to Pearlman's readers.
In many of the tales there are heroes, heroines, and important secondaries who live without partners. Their singlehood is not the result of a pathology or disappointment but of preference. These characters are among Pearlman's own favorites.
Pearlman writes about the predicaments – odd, wry, funny and painful – of being human. Her characters . . . take pleasure in what the world offers. They’re also principled, and moral responsibility plays an important part in their lives. Pearlman’s prose is smooth and poetic, and her world seems safe and engaging. So it’s arresting when, suddenly, almost imperceptibly, she slips emotion into the narrative … [her] view of the world is large and compassionate, delivered through small, beautifully precise moments. Her characters inhabit terrain that all of us recognize, one defined by anxieties and longing, love and grief, loss and exultation. These quiet elegant stories add something significant to the literary landscape.
- New York Times
“My only challenge,” acknowledges Ann Patchett in her charming introduction to “Binocular Vision,” describing the experience of reading one of Pearlman's stories in public, “was to keep from interrupting myself as I read. So often I wanted to stop and say to the audience, 'Did you hear that? Do you understand how good this is?'” Patchett is not alone. As I made my way through “Binocular Vision,” I kept stopping to read passages aloud to my wife, my friends, anyone who would listen. “Did you hear that?” I would ask them. “Do you understand how good this is?” - Los Angeles Times
There was a ravine where crystal water bubbled. On a branch hung a funnel-shaped ladle made of birch. They drank the cold fresh water. They walked along a winding path to an unused hunting lodge. They spoke of Dickens, of Durer … favorite topics of well-bred Russians. In the late afternoon sun the air was full of amber droplets, and everything was as if bathed by warm tea – the trees, the wet lane, even the faces of the two people who had not yet touched one another.