Hammer and Company

Honeydew includes 20 powerful new stories, including familiar places and entirely new settings.

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.

How to Fall

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.

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“...Cheever, Paley, Spark: these, I realize, are some big names. But Pearlman deserves the comparisons, and this is the point toward which I’ve been meandering: Pearlman is our greatest living American short story writer, and 'Honeydew' is her best collection yet.”
- Boston Globe

“We write in a culture that favors the heft of the novel. Better still if the novel in question is large enough to be wielded interchangeably as a doorstop and a weapon. To commit oneself wholly to the short story, as Edith Pearlman has done, suggests not only a gift for exploding the boundaries of the form, but something of a contrarian spirit. And where on earth would literature be without its great contrarians? Nowhere good. If “Binocular Vision” launched Pearlman, rightly, into the spotlight, “Honeydew” should cement her reputation as one of the most essential short story visionaries of our time.”
- New York Times

“Pearlman’s stories — slightly old-fashioned in their use of conceit; refreshingly loose in their capacity for digression or tangent; occasionally Whartonian in the bemused and acidic clarity of their narrative eye — are sui generis… [these stories] share a particular perspective that, like a perfume, floats throughout… to make of life’s everyday leavings a life-saving nectar — is, perhaps, Pearlman’s most consistent endeavour. She is wise, yes, but also unfailingly generous, even joyous… it certainly makes her fiction a fortifying pleasure to read.”
- Claire Messud, Financial Times

  • The New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice & “New Books for the New Year” Selection
  • The Millions Most Anticipated 2015 Book Preview
  • Kirkus Reviews “Must Read” in 2015
  • Library Journal Fiction Pick for 2015
  • Publisher’s Weekly Book of the Week
  • Starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist

An Excerpt
This Yefgin—what a rogue! Leather battle jacket, cascading Rs, and a circlet of gray hair lying loose on his head just as if it were a wig, though whenever he bent his two-timing face to examine a piece of jewelry, Rennie saw that it was real hair springing from his pink scalp. Double deception! And then, that peculiar profession—in a brown third-floor office Yefgin cured people of addictions like tobacco and scratch tickets, using a combination of hypnosis and harangue. “Special concoction,” he said, with a wink. Many of his clients did quit their habits, though they often switched to new ones. When Yefgin addressed a woman he kissed her hand first, then twisted his face into a grin that suggested he’d just conceived a helpless passion for her even though they’d met only minutes ago, such things happened all the time in Turgenev. His discolored teeth inspired sympathy rather than revulsion. He was forever in debt. Rennie let his IOUs accumulate to a thousand dollars—then, until he paid up, she refused to sell him any of the dramatic prewar brooches and bracelets he bought for his mistress, and she wouldn’t sell him any delicate Victorian rings either, the ones he gave to his wife, Vera. Oh, the scamp.

From time to time Yefgin brought Vera into Forget Me Not to try on one of those rings. She was a large woman with dyed hair whose garnet eyes were settled comfortably in her fleshy face. Rings meant for the fourth finger had trouble wriggling past the knuckle of her pinkie. They had to be resized. Yefgin doted on his fat spouse. He doted on his mistress too, buying her an enamel cockatoo and a bracelet of gold panels connected by diamonds—and, today, right now, a bouquet of amethysts for her lapel.

“Don’t tell Vera,” Yefgin said, scribbling his IOU.

He needn’t have troubled to say anything: Rennie made it a point of honor to keep her customers’ business to herself. Yefgin kissed her hand and scooted away.
From “Assisted Living”