“Literary Dream Team” Pearlman and Rybicki Shine at Reading

Chloe Miller | Staff Writer


“A haven for books that matter,” UNCW’s Lookout Books stands small in the world of presses, but with just as much heart and bold dreams as the big names in the publishing world. Edith Pearlman and John Rybicki, 2 of Lookout’s 4 authors, read on April 15 to an audience of eager listeners who may or may not have been expecting to be in the company of “2 of the best writer’s in the country,” said Lookout Books co-founder Ben George.

The reading was truly awe-inspiring. One couldn’t help but be entranced by Pearlman’s mastery of the short story and Rybicki’s emotional, intimate, in-depth exposures in his poetry.

Edith Pearlman, Lookout’s debut author, had mainly dazzled smaller audiences during her career of publishing more than 250 pieces in various anthologies and national magazines, but Binocular Vision changed any and all obscurity regarding her talent. Over 25,000 readers have now read Lookout’s inaugural and debut publication, with the fascination taking place worldwide as Binocular Vision is translated in to multiple languages, such as Swedish and Japanese.

UNCW was the first stop in a week-long North Carolina book tour for Pearlman as she makes her way to visit classrooms, conduct readings and join in on radio shows in places such as Charlotte and Davidson.

Recent winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Binocular Vision is a collection of short stories both new and pulled from Pearlman’s entire writing career, and expresses an exquisitely controlled yet surprising writing style and content. From a fictional suburb of Boston to Manhattan and from London to Jerusalem, Pearlman brings her readers on a globe-crossing literary adventure.

Pearlman charmed with a reading of the story “Mates,” which followed the family of the McGuire who arrive in to town with nothing, raise their three children and then vanish without a trace. The narrator who is a “maiden lady” imagines the McGuire’s part one life and move on to the next.

“I believe solitude to be not only the unavoidable human condition but also the sensible human preference,” Pearlman revels from her story. With a voice as soft as warm cake and so smooth to the yearning ear, Pearlman truly expressed her humbling personality and passion for the short story.

As the applause subsides after Pearlman’s reading, Ben George steps up to introduce John Rybicki. He tells of an admiration for sleepwalkers who “are willing to follow the invisible arrow in the carpet…welcoming the night” and always returning home to our beds safe.

“It’s time to trust our hearts…to walk by faith, not by sight,” George says reflecting on the foundational values of Lookout Books itself. The publishing world is adapting and small presses, especially, must innovate and continue to exist in order to preserve the publishing culture. Lookout specializes in appreciating the work of pieces that may be overlooked.

Lookout Book’s first poet, John Rybicki has been featured and reprinted in Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize, among many others, and has published two previous collections. His newest collection titled When All the World is Old was recently released on April 10 and pays tribute to his late wife, poet Julie Moulds, revealing entries from her journal, stories of their life together and the immense pain he felt during her sixteen-year struggle with cancer.

Let the tears start flowing. Throughout a majority of Rybicki’s readings of such poems as “One Wish” and “One Body,” the audience had to try and hold back tears right along with Rybicki.

It was amazing to gain an understanding of someone else’s relationship and love in such a short amount of time. Julie and John’s nicknames of “my dude” and “my gal” or “dame” for one another were endearing details, right along with stories of love notes Julie had written in the steam of the bathroom window. The final one kept reappearing after her death letting her husband and son know she loved them.

“Everything is a poem,” one of Julie’s entries said, and Rybicki said how he “wanted her body to be an Earth that went on and on forever.” The kind of big love desired by every girl in the world was painted right before my eyes.

“I was pulled over by the cops twice for writing while I was driving,” Rybicki laughs. He felt a duty and was honored to translate his love and pain in to a higher language to form a type of “release.”

“An individual is suffuse with eloquence when they’re standing next to a loved one who is dying,” Rybicki said.

An evening that truly represented the magic of the written word and how powerful “a conversation between writer and reader” can be, says Lookout co-founder Emily Smith. This event was one of 40 throughout the month of April to showcase innovation and collaboration and success at UNCW in honor of Chancellor Gary L. Miller’s official installation on April 20.