Honeydew, Edith Pearlman, 2015
A fine collection of short stories in which Pearlman conveys the core elements in her characters through finely wrought descriptions of everyday incidents in their lives. The title story tells the story of an anorectic high school student obsessed with insects (the honeydew is the sugary secretion that passes through aphids and other insects providing food for other animals), her French mother, and physician father who is having an affair with the head of school. Vulnerability, fear, love, obsession all combine to provide a line drawing sketch of the human condition. The stories often made me laugh and occasionally weep—high praise for fiction. The mani/pedi lady and the separated husband neighbor, the Polish nanny and the exiled dentist, the withdrawn anesthesiologist and the dying math teacher, the widow living with her nephew’s family, friends gossiping about a cousin’s lover dying in the act, the fake invitation to Mr. Flaxbaum, the antique dealer, the affair between the women’s health advocate and the African woman, the cousins and grandfather on a cruise, and on and on in a seemingly infinite set of regular folks whose inner lives and secrets Pearlman reveals, teaching a lesson that everyone is waging a great battle and everyone has a story. Fine collection, fine writing.