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Binocular Vision

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,783 Ratings  ·  312 Reviews
In this sumptuous offering, one of our premier storytellers provides a feast for fiction aficionados. Spanning four decades and three prize-winning collections, these twenty-one classic selected stories and thirteen scintillating new ones take us around the world, from Jerusalem to Central America, from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manh ...more
Kindle Edition, 397 pages
Published (first published January 11th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 23, 2012 Laysee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star-books
I read Ann Patchett’s “Introduction” to Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision and was seized by a desire to begin reading this collection of short stories and by a conflicting desire to savor it later like a dessert on some desert island. I have never heard of Edith Pearlman. Of course, I could not wait. I started reading slowly, making sure I had stories left to tie me over on a recent vacation. I read one story at a time and I was loathe to finish the last.

This turned out to be an amazing collecti

19:45 Sunday R4

"These stories are an exercise in imagination and compassion.. a trip around the world.." ANN PATCHETT, author of Bel Canto

Blurb: Edith Pearlman has been writing stories for decades and is in her mid seventies. Recognition duly arrived in America with various awards, but only recently has her collection, Binocular Vision, been acclaimed in Britain. Now there's chance to hear three of the tales on radio, and be acquainted with a voice that is compelling and new to us...

Reader Lydia
Feb 24, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edith Pearlman, winner of this year’s National Book Critics’ Circle Award, has quietly published dozens of stories over the last forty years in small literary magazines. Although many were selected for anthologies and “best-of” awards, few readers had heard of her until the University of North Carolina Wilmington published Binocular Vision - New and Selected Stories in 2011.

Pearlman mainly writes about women. Most are Jewish. Many are older, smart, and career-minded. Some are refugees. Though he
I read about 70 pages. I found the stories tragically boring. Tragically because Ann Patchett's glowing introduction prepared me to be wowed, and I was not. I was so not wowed that I choose to defy reason and review a book that I have not gotten even a quarter of the way through. I acknowledge that I see why people may like Pearlman's prose. It's blunt, yet delicate. It's written kind of matter-of-fact. But it's banal. It is. When I read short stories, I expect punch, or I look for it, anyway, a ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: short review
Shelves: short-stories, 2013
Believe the hype. A seemingly unspectacular writer who builds the lightest trap around you and you are caught in the elegant depiction of a world of love and irritation, humour and spiciness. Complex, exquisite, resonant stories of - mainly - middle class citizens of Godolphin (a fictional suburb of Boston), usually Jewish, and their various mis/adventures in love, family and work (mainly academic, sometimes political). Following or suppressing an erotic impulse; dealing with the needs of childr ...more
Ann Fisher
Sep 07, 2011 Ann Fisher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finishing this book made me want to go back to my other goodreads reviews and consider knocking them down a star or two so I could make it clear how incredibly wonderful this collection is. Perhaps my favorite book of 2011, and in a year when I also read Cutting for Stone and The Master and Margarita that's saying something.

Unlike many of my friends, I do love short stories, so I didn't have that obstacle to overcome. But this collection is a particular gem. Like some of the earlier reviewers,
Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman is a jewel of a book. Each short story is exquisitely crafted-beautifully written with characters fully realized and alive. Whether describing an elderly man's experience in South America or a child dealing with a dysfunctional family in a Boston suburb, Pearlman's stories draw the reader in to her universe.
Jack Urquhart
Aug 25, 2012 Jack Urquhart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Binocular Vision, by Edith Pearlman: "Cautious words make the story convincing."

I have been trying to fathom what it is about Edith Pearlman’s marvelous Binocular Vision (Lookout Books, January 2011) that makes this story collection such a treasure. That is why it was almost a relief to stumble upon the “cautious words” quote attributed to her and referenced in the title of this review. In truth, there doesn’t seem to be a single recklessly placed word in the 34 stories—13 of them previously unp
Ally Armistead
Feb 29, 2012 Ally Armistead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Binocular Vision" is a beautiful yet challenging collection: it is an important read, and yet story after story the reader must be willing to rise to the occasion, connect the dots, paddle around in a world with little context, and eventually emerge enlightened.

Not surprisingly, this is the structure of the stories themselves: Pearlman begins in media res with little tangible anchoring, and pushes through the day-in-day-out life of her characters until something poignant emerges. I confess: as
I don't usually read short stories. I like to get lost in the same story for months. But I saw that Edith Pearlman was an older writer. living not far from me, who had won awards, so I thought I'd try her out. Her stories turned out to be good--each one a perfect little gem with an unexpected but, in retrospect, thoroughly logical ending. They covered a wide range of topics. Twenty-one were "selected" -- from her past publications. Thirteen were new. The "selected" had primarily, but not exclusi ...more
Aug 29, 2010 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are stunning short stories: a very happy discovery. I'm selling this for John Blair, who are distributing it for UNC Wilmington. The quotes (from TC Boyle, Ann Patchett, Alice Mattison) on the cover almost oversell this book. Ann Patchett says in the introduction "To that great list of human mysteries which includes the construction of the pyramids and the persistent use of Styrofoam as packing material let me add this one: why isn't Edith Pearlman famous?" Enough said.
Jul 26, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning collection of short stories. The final story, 'Self Reliance', finishes it off perfectly.
Sep 08, 2016 JacquiWine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories is a collection of short stories by the American author Edith Pearlman. I can’t recall exactly when I first heard of this writer, but it was a year or so after her collection won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (an American literary award) in 2011. Pearlman’s career in writing spans four decades and over 250 of her short stories have been published in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and online publications. I’ve often seen h ...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2013 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If anyone can prove to me there's a better short story writer than Edith Pearlman, I'll eat my keyboard. Why I haven't stumbled on to her long ago is as big a puzzle to me as why I've missed all the other people and things that have zipped by behind my back over the years. Don't trust my assessment? How about Ann Patchett who says in her introduction to Binocular Vision, "Put her stories beside those of John Updike and Alice Munro. That's where they belong." Amen, I say, Amen.

When you have such
Bob Mustin
I get where Pearlman gets the name from this collection, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
The short story as an art form is more wide open than most readers – and writers ¬– realize. Short fiction can depict characters at a depth that makes some novels look amateurish. And the form can tell the most audacious of tales, or portray culture in ways that inform as much as does history. All this in 300 words or in 20,000. When an author and an editor compile a collection such as this one, you can ex
Jan 27, 2015 Veronica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, kindle
Well, for me Edith Pearlman isn't up there with Alice Munro, whatever Ann Patchett says. When she's good, she's very good indeed: Inbound, Rules, Capers, Self-Reliance, the trilogy of stories set in Displaced Persons camps (especially The Coat]). But quite a few other stories left me cold -- particularly but not solely those that seemed to require more familiarity with Jewish culture than I have. Best taken in small doses -- I took a break to read other books between stories.

The greatest pleasur
May 10, 2012 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
A master of the form ... And the form is one I don't usually love. But Pearlman packs as much character, plot, emotion and lovely writing into a handful of pages as most writers do in 400. Her meditations on aging, and particularly, solitarinesss are s clear eyed and honest - you feel that she is saying things that other writers daren't say. Her gentle acceptance and understanding of the many many ways that people organize their lives and their affections puts many younger writers to shame. I sh ...more
Very intense short stories. There is no doubt about the talent of the author. The writing is quite poetic and there were lines in individual stories that took my breath away. However, I think the problem I had with the book is that I found it frustrating to only get one "chapter's worth" of story about compelling characters. Really, that is more a statement about me and my issues as opposed to a problem with the short story collection. This author is a powerful force of prose.
Jan 18, 2015 Trish marked it as put-aside  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I heard about this author from Ann Patchett, who wrote the introduction to this collection. She mentioned specifically "Self Reliance" and it is true that story is quietly devastating. But it comes at the end. I read several other stories and am a little embarrassed to find that some of the stories I didn't understand. Will have to think about them to see what I missed.
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Series of short stories by the American short story writer from her acclaimed collection Binocular Vision.

1. Binocular Vision;
2. Unravished Bride;
3. Fidelity.

For a fiction writing class - there are five or six stories I haven't gotten to yet, but I love what I've seen so far. You can really dig down and settle in with Edith Pearlman; her stories are deep, comfortable, and subtly unsettling just enough to make your brain fizzle. She's gooooooood.
Tonia Graves
Beautifully written but short stories are not for me. Just as the characters develop you have to leave them and meet new ones.
Jan 19, 2012 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is from my review on Michele Berger's Fantastic blog on Creativity and Writing.

I’ve just fallen into literary love with a writer I assumed was brand new, Edith Pearlman.When I finished reading her short story, “Tess,” I put down my iPad and sat still for a moment with the intense feeling it left me. It’s a difficult sensation to describe to those who haven’t yet learned to love the short story. The sensation feels as though an important truth about
Apr 20, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An immensely beautiful and crafted collection of short stories. Short stories require tight control on the writer's part - one step down from poetry. A poem cannot afford to have one word off or the poem is ruined. Short stories must be similarly crafted. But Pearlman demonstrates that "crafted" does not mean boring or lacking illumination. Her wit is masterful and she provides magnificent "aha" moments. In a world dominated by blockbuster fiction - so much of it written in the first person narr ...more
Jan Rice
Edith Pearlman has been writing for 40 years but got "discovered" in the last couple of years. She has been winning awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award last year. I discovered her this month when I went to a book club discussion of Binocular Vision.

She writes short stories. I used to read short stories when I was a child but not so much lately. Why is that? My working theory was one too many New Yorker short stories that left me hanging. But maybe, too, because I like to inv
Apr 18, 2012 Ruthmgon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a master storyteller. You get the sense that this collection just taps the surface of the body of work this author has put out. The writing is wonderful, the characters and situations vivid. Some stories I liked more than others, but there is not a bad one in this bunch. I feel like I have read 20+ different novels.

And to top it off, not one of the people I asked who are readers had ever heard of this author.

Several of these stories have a surprising twist at the end, by in large chara
Oct 24, 2013 Judith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book so much I sent copies to my West Coast daughter and a friend there too. As a reader named Alan said,"Believe the hype. A seemingly unspectacular writer who builds the lightest trap around you and you are caught in the elegant depiction of a world of love and irritation, humour and spiciness. Complex, exquisite, resonant stories of - mainly - middle class citizens of Godolphin (a fictional suburb of Boston), usually Jewish, and their various mis/adventures in love, family and wo ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of the richest, most rewarding reading experiences I've had in a long time. I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into it at first -- maybe I wasn't in the right mood, maybe the first few stories didn't "click" with me -- so I put it aside for a bit; when I picked it up again, the next story I read was wonderful and I never looked back. There is a cumulative power to the stories -- so deftly crafted and beautifully observed, nothing showy in content or style, layering ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be the fault of how I read this, but I found that reading these stories as a book led me more to liking then loving this book. The themes become repetitious and Pearlman's story structure seemed to jump out at as similar with each passing story. There are some wonderful gems in here. I liked "Rules", "Self-Reliance", "Capers", "Bincoluar Vision", "Settlers", and "Toyfolk" more than most. The collection doesn't lack for wit or pathos and I really connected to many of these stories. Overa ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I have traditionally loved short stories, I have strayed from the genre since I've come to feel many authors exaggerate circumstances to startle and engage their reader in the short period of time they have to tell each story. Many are sad and depressing. But, like Jigs and Reels by Joanne Harris, I really enjoyed these stories. It is not a collection that drags you down and leaves you gasping for air. Ann Patchett says it all in her introduction, which is also worth reading: "It is not ...more
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BVSW ELA 11 - Sum...: MODERATOR: Dr. Golden 1 1 May 08, 2014 01:56PM  
  • We Others: New and Selected Stories
  • Death Is Not an Option
  • The Collected Stories
  • Selected Stories
  • Women in Their Beds: New and Selected Stories
  • Volt
  • The New Yorker Stories
  • The Sojourn
  • You Think That's Bad
  • Fools: Stories
  • Paris Stories
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing
  • This Is Not Your City
  • The News from Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story
  • Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
  • The Middleman and Other Stories
  • Esther Stories
  • American Salvage
Edith Pearlman, born in 1936, published her debut collection of stories in 1996, at age 60. Last year, she won The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for Binocular Vision. She has published over 250 works of short fiction in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and online publications. Her work has won three O. Henry Prizes, the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature, and a Mary McCarthy ...more
More about Edith Pearlman...

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