Books by Mickey Pearlman

Released: Feb. 14, 1998

Truths and memorable voices fill this sharp essay collection about the nature of love. To distinguish this work from the many collections that have appeared since the recent rebirth of the essay, veteran editor Pearlman (Between Friends, 1994; A Place Called Home, 1996) offers fresh views and a tight focus. Eschewing overly familiar contributors (Joyce Carol Oates excepted), she instead includes esteemed but less famous names like Ron Carlson, Myra Goldberg, and Elizabeth McCracken. More important, she has assembled a book (for a Valentine's Day release, no less) that forgoes encomiums on romance to probe the vast, slippery state of love and its necessity to human life. In 17 essays (plus one poem and one ``fiction-memoir''), writers explore various subjects, including the longevity of a marriage, love for a long-awaited child, a visceral connection to Abbott and Costello, and the meaning of a grandmother's affair with George Gershwin. Further marking this collection is the authors' awareness of mortality, transience, and the cycle of life; many of the essays are written by midlife adults well acquainted with loss and what follows. (A view of love seen at the end of life would have been welcome but could have undercut the book's overall hopeful tone.) No work here skimps, but the best point out essential truths of life and love: Peter Cameron's ``Excerpts from Swan Lake'' shows the human limitations that make love imperfect; Brian Hall's ``Mortal Love'' the essential loneliness of the individual, which love cannot conquer; Dennis McFarland's ``A Plea for Chaos'' the emotional disarray that is the desired state of human commitment. A meaningful collection for those wishing to contemplate the immensity of love. (Author tour) Read full book review >
A PLACE CALLED HOME by Mickey Pearlman
Released: Sept. 16, 1996

Veteran anthologist Pearlman (Between Friends, 1994, etc.) comes up with yet another collection of original, lyrical pieces from a stellar group of writers. The theme this time is ``home,'' and for the 20 women writers who share their feelings on the subject, home can mean many things. For Marcie Hershman, it is the two-family house that she bought because her mother wanted her lesbian daughter to have ``something to count on''; for Dani Shapiro, home evokes horrible memories of anti-Semitic incidents directed against her family in the suburban New Jersey neighborhood where she grew up. Meg Pei finds home in a summer house her family owned during her youth; Francine Prose remembers a rented house where she lived for seven months before the birth of her child. For Jill McCorkle, home is the house of her childhood, complete with happy memories of a warm and loving family; for Julie Smith, home is a place that needs to be discovered, while the locale of one's childhood remains forever alien, a part of a receding past. The most compelling aspect of this collection is the writers' attempts to understand the concept of home—as a place, as a memory, as a feeling within oneself. None of them imagines that there is an easy answer to the question of what ``home'' means: The answer may be troubled, or contented, or ambivalent, but it is never obvious, and it can never be taken for granted. One small caution to the reader: Read in one sitting, these pieces tend to blend into an amorphous mass. But each essay is wonderful in its own right and deserves to be read with care and concentration. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1994

Pearlman, editor of Listen to Their Voices (1993) and A Voice of One's Own (not reviewed), has a talent for rustling up the most interesting guests for her literary salons. This new collection of essays, centering on the nature of friendship, and its importance in these women writers' lives, is no exception. What are friends for? How does one find them? How is it possible to hang onto them through all of life's vicissitudes? Pearlman's essayists approach these questions from refreshingly varying points of view—in some cases revealing shameful secrets of their own pasts, and in others offering rousing tributes to companions who have helped make life's journey fun. Margot Livesey's luminous evocation of her isolated Scottish childhood ends with the discovery of friends in less class-conscious America who have helped her rediscover her past. Michelle Cliff celebrates her glamorous Jamaican grandmother, half Jean Rhys and half Auntie Mame, who applauded Cliff's efforts to write about long-suppressed family secrets. Jane Smiley tackles the ticklish subject of using friends as literary fodder. Wendy Wasserstein worries over competition between women friends. Carolyn See offers a vivid picture of two girls growing up poor in East Hollywood and remaining best friends as they make their marks on the world. And in a particularly unsettling piece, Angela Davis-Gardner describes a pubescent obsession with the most popular girl in her North Carolina school, a ``non-friend'' who inhabited the bookish Davis- Gardner's dreams for decades—until the writer's progress in her work set her free. A passionate and profoundly life-affirming collection. (Serial rights to Ladies Home Journal, Glamour, Utne Reader, etc.) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

Though described as ``twenty interviews,'' what Pearlman (ed., American Women Writing Fiction, 1989, etc.) really gives us here is not Q&A talks but something more: brief and telling profiles of 20 women writers, with extensive conversational quotes from the authors. Pearlman presents a range of writers, encompassing veterans, relative newcomers, blacks, whites, and (one of each) Japanese-, Chinese-, Filipino- and Native Americans. Grace Paley, absent-minded and charming, who borrows Pearlman's telephone calling-card to call Pennsylvania but gets Utah instead, offers some pungent comments on literary careerism and applauds the new ethnic literatures. Sue Miller delights in seeing her books made into movies (``Anything that will broaden the audience for serious fiction is good''), while Anne Rice—whom we learn was named ``Howard O'Brien'' at birth, after her father—offers insight into American writing as a ``Protestant'' phenomena and complains about editors and book reviewers. Jessica Hagedorn, Fay Weldon, Jane Smiley, Jayne Anne Phillips, Terry Tempest Williams, and Shirley Abbott are among the others whom Pearlman speaks to in this engaging, informative collection. Read full book review >