Rating: 4.5* of five The Book Description: Edith Pearlman's characters are children, old women, young men, rabbis, toy makers, lovers, invalids, immigrants, schmoozers, angels, and fools; all of them perfectly real and accessible, all of them drawn with a kind of comic quietude that only excellent writers can sustain.The title story begins: “At the dinner following Michal's wedding to Bellamy they did the chair thing. It was a Jewish wedding, after all – as Jewish as a wedding could be when the bride's mother was not Jewish and therefore the bride, strictly speaking, was not Jewish either; as Jewish as a wedding could be in a prairie college town where the one synagogue, struggling to keep solvent, rented itself out weekdays to Alcoholics Anonymous and a quilting group.”Readers are going to love these polished and unusual stories. My Review: A lot of praise has come Edith Pearlman's way since the prize-winning success of her story collection Binocular Vision in 2011. Not one minute too soon, either, as Pearlman will never see seventy again. I'm delighted that she is achieving the notice she has so long deserved, and I offer as my proof that the notice is delayed this story collection, Love Among the Greats, published in 2002.Love is a subject people never tire of discussing, mythologizing, thinking about, lying to each other during and after. We're completely besotted with love. Pearlman's brief in these stories is to refract a beam of light onto many of the conditions of love, lovingkindness, and passions both fresh and banked, but hot. In 149pp, she does precisely this thing, and she does it so well that I can't imagine how this collection escaped my notice until 2012.The thirteen stories that make up Love Among the Greats were written in the 1990s, published in high-quality reviews like The Kenyon Review, Pleiades, and The Antioch Review, anthologized in Best American Short Stories 1998 (“Chance”) and 2000 (“Allog”). Five stories from here are among the Selected Stories in Binocular Vision: “Tess” which is here called “Tess's Team,” to my mind a better title for it; the prize-winning “Chance” and “Allog”; “ToyFolk” and “Fidelity.” Again, I run into the major problem of reviewing a story collection whose constituent parts are so brief. How do I tell you what a story is about without ruining it for you? How to pick, from among Pearlman's many marvelous lines, a few to quote to you? So I'll go back to the stars-per-story method.5 stars-per-story“Love Among the Greats”“Sylvia's Place”4.5 stars-per-story“Accommodators”“Neighbors”“ToyFolk”“Fidelity”4 stars-per-story“Allog”“Big Fish”“The Thought of You”“Fitting”“The Jigsaw Table” (really, 3.5 stars promoted to 4 for tidiness)And then the two I thought the least of, “Chance” and “Tess's Team,” the latter of which I actively disliked and wouldn't have chosen for Binocular Vision. Be that as it may, these are still solid three-star stories and, in an anthology or in a weaker writer's collection, they'd be standouts.Love Among the Greats is the kind of book I look for, and long for: It is short enough to attract people to sample the writer's gifts, good enough to hook them, and for the occasional soul like me who gets the urge to slip into the skins and brains of remarkably unremarkable people, it is a drug high. I love the calm, self-assured way Pearlman tells the reader of the life led by Michal, an unremarkable woman we pass on the street, married, young, from a prairie college town and living in Boston; it is her life that we see the most of, as the four middle stories here are a kind of novella-length scenes-from-the-life. Pearlman doesn't pad them into a novel, or even stretch them into a novella. She loves her readers and trusts them to follow her anyway.This collection of stories is a delight. I want to give you samples. I can't...this is the book that one leads a friend to the chair next to the fire, pushes them into it and gives them a potent, sweet drink, draws up the stool and begins to read to them. It is a warm, comfortable, old-fashioned joy of a book, meant to be savored and shared and passed from happy reader to happy reader.Excellent work, Edith Pearlman. Thank you.