Summary and book reviews of Perfect Recall by Ann Beattie

Perfect Recall

by Ann Beattie

Perfect Recall by Ann Beattie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Dec 2000, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2002, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Perfect Recall comprises Beattie's strongest work in years. It is a riveting commentary on the way we live now by a spectacular prose artist.

Ann Beattie published her first short story in The New Yorker in 1972. Twenty-eight years later, she received the 2000 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is, as the Washington Post Book World said, "one of our era's most vital masters of the short form."

The eleven stories in her new work are peopled by characters coming to terms with the legacies of long-held family myths or confronting altered circumstances -- new frailty or sudden, unlikely success. Beattie's ear for language, her complex and subtle wit, and her profound compassion are unparalleled.

From the elegiac story "The Famous Poet, Amid Bougainvillea," in which two men trade ruminations on illness, art, and servitude, to "The Big-Breasted Pilgrim," wherein a famous chef gets a series of bewildering phone calls from George Stephanopoulos, Perfect Recall comprises Beattie's strongest work in years. It is a riveting commentary on the way we live now by a spectacular prose artist.

Chapter Two
The Big-Breasted Pilgrim

Our house in the Florida Keys is down a narrow road, half a mile from a convenience store with a green neon sign that advertises "Bait and Basics." Lowell's sister, Kathryn, called to get us to arrange for a car to drive her from Miami. She considers everywhere Lowell has ever lived to be Siberia, including Saratoga, New York, which she saw only once, during a blizzard. TriBeCa, circa 1977, was Siberia. Ditto Ashland, Oregon. In all those places, Lowell had what he now calls "The Siberian Brides": his first and second wives, who gradually became as incomprehensible to him as foreigners: Tish, who lived with us in Saratoga and later in TriBeCa; Leigh Anne Leighton -- a name so melodic he always speaks of her that way, even though it seems inordinately formal -- who lived with us for a month in Ashland before flying to Los Angeles for her grandfather's funeral, from which she never returned. This was no case of riding forever 'neath the streets of ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The narratives Ann Beattie has created shift between various places and times. The title story epitomizes this fluidity: Jane's ability to remember conversations and events in their entirety allows her to document her family's story and to attempt to weave the past and present together. How does the past affect the lives of the various characters? What does Beattie achieve by incorporating the past into many of the narratives throughout the collection?

  2. In "See the Pyramids" Cheri says to Erin, "You could get married, go on a honeymoon, see the pyramids." Trips, visits, moves, migrations — many journeys take place throughout these stories. Often these are a means of escape or a gateway into ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Publisher's Weekly

The 1998 publication of Park City, a collection of new and selected stories, sparked a much-deserved revival of interest in Beattie, one of the most under appreciated of major contemporary writers. Now, Beattie rewards longtime fans and new readers alike with 11 deft, pitch-perfect stories.

Library Journal

... more perfect stories from Beattie.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Perfect Recall, try these:

  • There Are Jews In My House jacket

    There Are Jews In My House

    by Lara Vapnyar

    Published 2004

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty.

  • Flights of Love jacket

    Flights of Love

    by Bernhard Schlink

    Published 2002

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A collection of stories that weave themselves around the idea of love---love to seek and love to flee; love as desire, as guilt, as confusion or self-betrayal; love as habit, as affair, and as life-changing rebellion.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Do Not Become Alarmed
    Do Not Become Alarmed
    by Maile Meloy
    Full disclosure: I've never had any desire to go on a cruise. I start getting antsy and ...
  • Book Jacket: Priestdaddy
    Priestdaddy
    by Patricia Lockwood
    Patricia Lockwood is a poet and the daughter of Greg Lockwood, a Catholic priest. While Catholic ...
  • Book Jacket: Before We Sleep
    Before We Sleep
    by Jeffrey Lent
    Katey Snow, aged seventeen, leaves home one night. "There was a void within her and one that could ...

Win this book!
Win News of the World

News of the World

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Gypsy Moth Summer
    by Julia Fierro

    One of the most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T's S I Numbers

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.