How to Fall
Edith Pearlman manages to combine subtlety with extravagance, understatement with spectacle, drawing our focus to the eccentricities of those who would prefer to remain unnoticed. . . . Confronted with unexpected obstacles, these characters exchange the blurring comfort of routine with spontaneity and improvisation . . . . Full of vivid, intricate, nuanced portraits, confidently focused, restrained and yet spirited, saturated with a powerful imaginative sympathy. How to Fall is a darkly humorous collection that welcomes the world's immense variety with confidence. Spanning no fewer than four countries in sixty years, these sixteen stories flesh out the complexities of people who, at first glance, live ordinary, unremarkable lives. Widowers, old men, estranged spouses, young restaurant workers, career women and Jewish grandmothers are all at the center of Pearlman's cool, studied observation. Each character is rendered with such unpredictable intricacy that they often astonish themselves just as much as the reader. Many of the stories either begin or wind their way back to one, mythical, two-by-three-mile Massachusetts town-Godolphin, a place that called itself a town but was really a leafy wedge of Boston.