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This set of stories gave me trouble. I found myself having a hard time distancing myself from them, especially the last two. Even now I’m having a hard time trying to relate the experience of reading these stories because so much of my reading was conflated with stories from my own family history. The short of it is this, my Hungarian great aunt and my Polish great aunt have recently passed away; they were the last two keepers of my families linguistic ties to our ethnic history. Both left their respective countries at around the same time, both fleeing WWII. This family history isn’t significant to a greater understanding of these stories, however it’s affected the way I’ve internalized the tales.

I’ve been thinking of these stories in regards to their emphasis on the effects of diaspora, the way people move- by choice or by force, and how that relates to the expressed human experience. Which is where I think these stories really excel, the subtle details, the complexity of the emotions, and the specificity of the fact that life continues on maintains a high degree of reality that I feel gets lost frequently. In my own writing I often find that I become so focused on specific elements that I forget that life has to go on around my characters. Edith Pearlman doesn’t forget that, every moment has depth to it. Despite whatever is happening to her characters, physically or emotionally, the outside world is still there and is still apparent. It’s easy for a writer to dismiss the rest of the world when focusing on a dramatic point in the story, but that’s not real. What Pearlman does is something I aspire to, she’s woven her characters so deftly into each setting that when we notice that, although everything is crashing down, there are still others going about there lives; and we aren’t distracted or distanced from the story at hand.

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