‘Honeydew’ by Edith Pearlman – “All Cats are Gray at Night”

‘Honeydew’ by Edith Pearlman,  stories    (2015) –   275 pages   Grade: A

Honeydew_book_cover

In Edith Pearlman’s story ‘Hat Trick’ four single girls all aged nineteen sit on the porch talking about their ideal future mates.  After listening in for awhile, the mother of one of the girls interrupts.

 “Oh, my darling fools.  You dream about musical fellows, brainy guys, masterful ones, sophisticates.  Let me tell you something: all cats are gray at night.” 

 She has the girls write down the names of twelve decent fellows in town on little pieces of paper.  She puts the pieces of paper in a hat, and each girl draws one name.  That will be the guy each girl will marry, and the mother assures them they will be happy enough, because their marriage will be arranged by the best matchmaker of all, chance.

‘Hat Trick’ is one of the stories in ‘Honeydew’.  There are twenty stories in here, each as dense and warm and poignant as the next.  ‘Honeydew’ is not an easy read, but the density of these stories makes them rich and strange.  One of the qualities that give these stories a special aura is the unusual perspective that Pearlman brings to each.  One bit of advice to writers from Emily Dickinson was ‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”  Edith Pearlman tells it slant.

These stories have great variety and some unusual locales.  Some are quite peculiar.  “Tenderfoot” is the finest story about a pedicure and exfoliation I’ve ever read.  A quirky weirdness permeates most of these stories, all for the better.

Pearlman brings an Old World charm to the stories that saves them from ever being run-of-the-mill.

The story ‘Puck’ is my personal favorite and perhaps Pearlman’s most typical story.  Rennie is the proprietor of the Forget Me Not antique store.  She is known for her discretion and restraint; her cardinal rule number one is to never ‘tell any customer anything whatsoever about any other customer’.  Thus her customers naturally confide in her.  I expect this is just the type of person Edith Pearlman herself is.

Ophelia arrives with this large statue, Puck, that she wants to sell to the store.  She mentions that Puck ‘watched over my love and me’.  Rennie realizes that this ‘love’ was not Ophelia’s husband who had died recently.  I won’t reveal any more details of the story, only that it has an appropriate conclusion.

Every story in ‘Honeydew’ is a winner as far as I’m concerned.  In  ‘The Golden Swan’, only Edith Pearlman could write a completely involving story about two single college age girls on a Caribbean Sea cruise that contains not even one shipboard romance.

In ‘Honeydew’ we have a collection of stories that is at least as good as the quotes on the back cover say it is.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I was very impressed with Pearlman’s Binocular Vision collection when I read it last year. Her stories seems to have a strong focus on characterisation, and the little details make them all the more convincing. This latest collection sounds very good.

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    • Hi Jacqui,
      Yes. ‘Binocular Vision’ was a fine collection, and so is ‘Honeydew’. I can’t imagine how Edith Pearlman escaped fame for so long, but she has certainly now arrived. The little details in her stories are always telling, and the quirkiness in every one of them makes them special. Although her stories are infinitely different from Alice Munro, Pearlman is in the same league as a storyteller. ‘Honeydew’ is my favorite book this year so far.

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