Edith Pearlman & Alice Mattison
Tuesday May 10, 2011
Two masters of the short story came together to read from their new works and discuss the art of writing short fiction.
Edith Pearlman’s fiction has won three O. Henry Prizes and has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and New Stories from the South. The author of three previous short-story collections: Vaquita (winner of the Drue Heinz Prize for Literature), Love Among the Greats (winner of the Spokane Fiction Award), and How to Fall (winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize). She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. Watch video
Alice Mattison's most recent novel, Nothing Is Quite Forgotten In Brooklyn, was published in 2008 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award; an excerpt appeared in The New Yorker. Her collection of connected stories, In Case We're Separated, was a New York Times Notable Book and won the Connecticut Book Award for Fiction. She is the author of four previous novels, including The Book Borrower, three earlier collections of stories, and a collection of poems. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Yale Review, The Women's Review of Books, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere, and have been reprinted in The Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories. She teaches fiction in the Bennington Writing Seminars. Watch video
Dawn Raffel: You've been writing and publishing stories—hundreds of them!—for a long time. What keeps it fresh for you? What keeps you alive as an artist?
Edith Pearlman: I love short stories—reading them, thinking about them, talking about them. Writing them is another part of that pleasure. I think the pleasure doesn’t fade because while I’m writing a story I live in it. It’s a journey on which I meet interesting people—and pay no travel expenses.
DR: Was there ever a period in your adult life when you weren't writing?
EP: I didn’t write other than letters in my twenties, because I had to make my living. I was a computer programmer, which, perhaps surprisingly, has a lot in common with writing.
DR: You've won many accolades over the years but the front page New York Times Review was a very bright spotlight. How has it affected you? Does it make it harder to see without being seen?
EP: Generous of you to think the Times Review made me famous. I am still nicely invisible—I see without being seen, as you so deftly put it. Of course the Times Review (and others like it) made me proud and happy. But I've had always had a devoted though small following—now it’s a little bigger. And I get more invitations to speak and read, which satisfies the ham in me.