Edith Pearlman, Author . Eastern Washington Univ. $15.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-910055-80-2

Pearlman paints a poignant, evocative series of portraits in her second short story collection, bringing her wide-ranging curiosity and intelligence to bear on an assemblage of unusual characters. A toy executive is transferred to a Czech village in "Toyfolk," and befriends a couple of toy collectors whose relationship is not what it seems. Two older single women, an obituary writer and a seamstress, find their passing relationship transformed into a lasting friendship when they escape a fire together in "Fitting." Several interrelated stories chronicle the life of Michal, the only child of a Midwestern Jewish college professor and his lovely gentile wife. In the title story, Michal survives a brief failed marriage and finds love at last with black pediatrician Malachi in the stacks of the Harvard library. Pearlman's sophisticated, off-kilter take on matters of the heart also illuminates "Fidelity," the brief story of a love triangle commencing when the protagonists are in their 60s and ending 20 years later. Some of her stories are so underplayed that they fall flat, but Pearlman is a compassionate narrator who uses irony and subtle humor to expose the flaws and foibles of her characters. As was the case in Vaquita, her award-winning debut effort, she shows herself to be a writer of uncommon depth and wisdom, with a penchant for adding a folkish touch to her plots and lessons. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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