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I was surprisingly captivated by Edith Pearlman’s short stories.  What I found the most interesting was the structure of the stories and the attention to detail.  Most pieces of literature are structured in a specific way, quickly establishing scene by introducing who the main characters are, where the story is located, what is happening, and when it is happening.  Pearlman’s stories are different. In the beginning it’s like solving a missing persons case. You’re given small hints to the story, but the whole picture doesn’t obviously present itself.

My personal favorite story was “Inbound,” a story of a young girl who takes a trip to Harvard and gets separated from her parents.  The unconventional writing technique of Pearlman is obvious in this story because it is unclear whose perspective this story is being told in. Her writing takes on a childlike tone, yet an intelligent one so eventually it is realized that Sophie is the main focus of the story.  However, this doesn’t limit Pearlman to write solely in Sophie’s perspective. One part that I thought was particularly interesting was the thoughts of the parents when they realize that their daughter is gone.  Sophie’s mother has a stream of consciousness trying to figure out where her daughter could go, and her chaotic yet attempted rational emotional state is nicely displayed.  This method allows the reader to get a more intimate perspective on all of the characters, but the details that are normally seen in a story are still not overtly stated, distancing the reader. Pearlman’s stories are all in the details, and in order to understand them the reader really needs to pay attention to them.

Another thing I really enjoyed about Pearlman’s writing was her use of imagery.  In the story “The Noncombatant”, she describes a character’s eyes. She says, “Whose eyes, blue as a gas flame, flickered at him.” (p. 40) The simile and metaphor in this sentence really stands out to me.  This is also seen in the story “Allog,” when she says, “he had apricot hair” (p. 58). The description is so vivid, yet original. It’s a metaphor that I would have never thought of myself.

There are many common elements seen in Pearlman’s stories. One of them is some form of disability, whether it is mental or physical. In “Inbound,” Sophie’s little sister has downs syndrome. This gives an interesting perspective to the readers because she displays all of the emotions that come with people with disabilities. The characters show what they feel, what they are supposed to feel, and the guilt they sometimes have for not feeling exactly the way they think they should. This internal struggle is something that everyone can relate to.  Her stories also don’t have some epic battle at the climax. I like them because they describe everyday moments (not discrediting their interest level), moments that I have experienced.

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