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The Reasons I Won't Be Coming Paperback – Bargain Price, December 5, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perlman's bestseller Seven Types of Ambiguity was published in December of last year; this set of nine stories, first published in Perlman's native Australia in 2000, works the peripheries of similar territory and reads like a very successful set of outtakes and trial runs. The coldly luminous opener, "Good Morning, Again," perfectly captures the rueful, moment-by-moment disappointment of waking up after an empty liaison that follows an intense relationship. In "Manslaughter," Perlman, who is a barrister, uses a jury's own observations of one another to mercilessly send up the deliberative process (or decided lack thereof). The chirpy, inarticulate legalese a probate lawyer uses to voice his despair at the loss of his daughter (and then his wife) is rendered dead-on, as is the corporate-speak a spurned lover resorts to in a letter-never-sent–style monologue. A drawn-out story of a mad poet's minor redemption falls flat, as does a grotesque featuring a young, unloved student named Spitalnic, who literally has a hole in his heart. But "A Tale in Two Cities," the final novella charting the limits of Jewish emigré resilience, is Perlman in full: mystery, tight dialogue, layers of irony. At his best, Perlman makes false reasoning testify eloquently. (Dec. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Perlman follows his critically acclaimed novel, Seven Types of Ambiguity (2004), with a provocative collection of nine short stories that mine the depths of personal despair and societal angst in disarmingly direct, and often unpredictable, ways. From grieving parents to shady prosecutors, spurned lovers, and failed poets, Perlman's protagonists bare their souls, frequently through startling yet hauntingly recognizable interior, stream-of-consciousness dialogues that simultaneously reveal the tranquilizing fragility and frightening volatility inherent within conditional relationships. Themes of alienation and betrayal simmer tantalizingly throughout, occasionally bubbling over into gripping dramas such as "Your Niece's Speech Night" and "I Was Only in a Childish Way Connected to the Established Order." Without a doubt, the strongest of the entries is "A Tale in Two Cities," which follows the dissolution of a Russian family as they emigrate from Moscow to Melbourne. With astonishing acuity, Perlman cleverly distills momentous issues to their quintessential core as he explores the tenuous nature of rational behavior in the face of impending emotional upheaval. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (December 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594482233
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594482236
  • ASIN: B001G8WRN8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,131,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Elliot Perlman's collection of short stories, THE REASONS I WON'T BE COMING, was a Christmas gift that I put on my stack of books to be read. I'm not sure how it worked its way to the top of the pile so quickly, but after reading the wee introductory offering, "Good Morning, Again" I had to read the other eight.

I found all nine to be good stories, and, as other reviewers have pointed out, the final piece was an excellent representation, and perhaps even a stand-alone work, but for me, the story that was the most powerful and complete was "I Was Only in a Childish Way Connected to the Established Order." Besides being well crafted, with most of the characters highly developed, it was a story describing the allusiveness of sanity. Examining what is crazy, and what is normal through the eyes of a poet is nothing new, but here Perlman takes a fresh approach, moving from a blissful city life to the stress and strain of a country existence.
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Format: Hardcover
Though these stories are perhaps not as creatively sophisticated as Perlman's novel, SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY (shich I strongly recommend), they are nonetheless compelling and satisfying in their own right. My understanding is that he wrote them prior to SEVEN TYPES . . . , so they offer a glimpse into the tremendous potential that was to be fuly realized in the longer work. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Perman's voices are memorable, and his themes are poignant. The first and last stories, for example, are two of my favorites, yet they are completely different in style, setting, plot and characterization. In this way, I believe that the shorter literary form serves Perlman's talent for versatility well. Indeed, it is exciting to consider what he will give us next.
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Format: Hardcover
Perlman's writing style is the kind of deceptively simple literary pulp that might finally bring intelligent books back into vogue. The mass-produced mush that often clots the shelves of bookstores has its place, but it has also made works of genius tiresome affairs for most people. No one likes to be talked down to, least of all by an inanimate object.

Perlman's writing follows in the footsteps of authors like Cheever and Carver, men who throw their ten cents in but make it look like two. These are the kinds of works that don't fly over the head, but that are also much deeper and more dangerous than they initially seem. As a result, people don't feel alienated by the text, nor do the intelligentsia feel slighted by the material.

Short stories are tough acts for novelists, though. Even if Perlman's deft strokes show in the tales of this book, his limitations are likewise revealed. How to contain, in a handful of pages, the breadth and beauty that these guys more artfully employ in hundreds of pages or more? Below is a brief list of the stories, in order of accomplishment.

1 Star - MANSLAUGHTER - An overlong excuse for Perlman to use the technical knowledge he has gained in his work as a barrister. The fluctuating narratorial threads and the ambivalent emotion of the piece showcase the post-modern emotion behind concepts like "guilt" and "justice," but the overall product is bloated, unwieldy, and boring in the way of uber-technical curios.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Elliot Perlman, have been since reading his gargantuan masterpiece `Seven Types of Ambiguity' and so when I stumbled across `The Reasons I Won't be Coming' at my local bargain bookstore I had to have a copy. This is a collection of 9 short stories, some longer than others that at times either shine a spotlight on Perlman's talent or, to some extent, dim that light. There are some great stories here, `In the Time of the Dinosaur' stands out as my favorite I believe, but there are also some I could have done without.

Reading this collection I noticed something about this author I've come to love, and that is that he tends to have a one track mind when it comes to his characters. Every narrator, that aside from the one in `In the Time of the Dinosaur', seems to be these smart literary lost souls who can never find the right person who understands them. It can get somewhat redundant and disappointing. That aside, one can't ignore this man's mastery of the English language. Everything is written so elegantly that you're compelled to enjoy it even if you don't really understand it.

He starts things off on a good note, with `Good Morning, Again', and what I liked about this opening story is that it was short and to the point, grabbed your interest and made you want to read more. It describes one mans feelings after spending the night for the first time with a new lover, how she compares to his former flame and whether or not he wishes to continue down the road to a relationship with this younger woman. It's very real and very relatable. Again, Perlman's writing is just so absorbing.
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