University of North Carolina at Wilmington's new publishing house Lookout Books appears to have a hit with its first publication, Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman. In the last week, this series of short stories has been heralded in the NY Times, Publishers Weekly, and The LA Times, and has garnered a starred review at Booklist (as well as PW). With the LA Times book critic admitting that he "had never heard of Edith Pearlman before reading 'Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories.... At the same time, had I been familiar with Pearlman for all those years, I would have been deprived of the great joy of discovering her, the thrill of coming upon a writer with an eye, and a command of language, so acute."
The book contains 34 short stories, some previously published, some new stories, and a few older stories that have never been included in a collection before. Ann Patchett writes in the introduction, "My only challenge, was to keep from interrupting myself as I read. So often I wanted to stop and say to the audience, 'Did you hear that? Do you understand how good this is?'"
The Lookout Books print run is likely on the smaller side. Pomegranate Books, an Independent bookstore in Wilmington, noted on its Facebook page that even though "[t]here is a smallish print run" for this title, they still had copies as of January 7.
Publishers Weekly [starred review]:
A finely tuned collection by writer's writer Pearlman combines the best of previous collections (How to Fall; etc.) with austere, polished new work. Pearlman's characters for the most part are stiff-upper-lipped Northeasterners who take what comes and don't grumble: in "The Noncombatant," Richard, a 49-year-old doctor suffering gravely from cancer during the tail end of WWII, rages quietly in his small Cape Cod town as celebrations erupt and memories of the wasted lives of the dead are swept away. A fictional Godolphin, Mass., is the setting for many of the stories, such as "Rules," in which the well-meaning staff at a soup kitchen try not to pry into the lives of the "cheats and crazies, drunks and dealers" who frequent the place. "Hanging Fire" is a perfectly crafted story about a 21-year-old college graduate, Nancy, on the cusp of embarking on life and certain only of her obligation to herself. The tale of retired gastroenterologist Cornelia Fitch in "Self-Reliance" reads like the fulfillment of Nancy's own self-determined trajectory: after a successful career, she determines how she wants to leave this life: with dignity and a wink. This should win new converts for Pearlman.
Paperback: 392 pages
Publisher: Lookout Books (January 11, 2011)
Cover Price: $18.95
Edit [Sept. 1, 2015]: First printings for the Softcover are listing for between $60 (unsigned) and $225 (signed); Hardback, if signed, is listing for about $70
Labels: Binocular Vision, Edith Pearlman, Hypermodern collectible, Lookout Books, short stories, UNC-Wilmington