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November 1996
208 pages  

6 x 9
9780822962113
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Vaquita and Other Stories
Pearlman, Edith
Winner of the 1996 Drue Heinz Literature Prize.

To author Edith Pearlman, "The stories in Vaquita aim at an intimacy between writer and reader. That imagined reader wants to know who loves whom, who drinks what, and, mostly, who answers to what summons. Thank Heavens for Spike Lee! Before his movies writers and critics had to natter about moral stances; now I can say with a more tripping tongue that my characters are people in peculiar circumstances, aching to Do The Right Thing if only they can figure out what The Right Thing is. If not, they’ll at least Do Their Own Right Thing Right."

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Edith Pearlman has published more than one hundred stories and essays in magazines, journals, and newspapers. Her stories have twice won the O'Henry Prize and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.
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Drue Heinz Literature Prize
Fiction/Drue Heinz
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• Winner of the 1996 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

When asked to describe her short stories, Edith Pearlman replied that they are stories about people in peculiar circumstances aching to Do The Right Thing. She elaborated with the same wit and intimacy that make her stories a delight to read: “Before I was a writer I was a reader; and reading remains a necessary activity, occupying several joyous hours of every day. I like novels, essays, and biographies; but most of all I like the short story: narrative at its most confiding.

“My own work, and particularly the stories in Vaquita, aims at a similar intimacy between writer and reader. My imagined reader wants to know who loves whom, who drinks what, and, mostly, who answers to what summons. Thank Heavens for Spike Lee! Before his movies writers and critics had to natter about moral stances; now I can say with a more tripping tongue that my characters are people in peculiar circumstances, aching to Do The Right Thing if only they can figure out what The Right Thing is. If not, they’ll at least Do Their Own Right Thing Right.

“And I’m drawn to heat: sweltering Central American cities; a steamy soup kitchen; Jerusalem in midsummer; the rekindled passion of an old historian; the steady fire of terminal pain. I like solitaires, oddities, charlatans, and children. My characters are secretive; in almost every story somebody harbors a hidden love, dread, regret, or the memory of an insult awaiting revenge.

“When I stop writing stories I plan to write letters, short and then shorter. My mother could put three sentences onto a postcard and make the recipient think he’d read a novel. I’m working towards a similar compression.”

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“Most of Pearlman's stories feature strong female characters whose solitary lives have been altered by unexpected encounters, illustrating truthfully how subtle incidents shape human lives. The diverse multicultural backgrounds of the plots add interest to the depth of characterization. . . . Powerful.”—Library Journal

"What a pleasure to see the characters of Vaquita living their rich lives in the tumultuous and difficult world."—Rosellen Brown

"I was charmed by the people in this collection. . . . The writing is graceful and there's a range of sensitive intelligence at work; this is a book I would buy and give to friends." —Molly Giles

“Elegantly written. A solid debut from a writer worth keeping an eye on.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Pearlman’s tales are written with great authority; details of place and the compassion of the characters ring true every time. . . . There is not a weak story in the collection.” —Choice

“[Pearlman’s] writing is as calm as the most serene of her charecters, a voice that flows around events that themselves are sometimes unexpectedly jarring but always intensely human.” —Boston Globe

“The fifteen stories in this debut collection gently delineate the interior lives of their thoughtful protagonists as they grapple with jealousy, longing, mortality,, and the desire to do good in a complicated world.”—Publishers Weekly


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