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Perfect Recall

Perfect Recall

New Stories

  • reading group guide
Peopled by characters struggling with second marriages, abandoning artistic aspirations, or coming to terms with the betrayal of their own expectations, this collection of eleven new stories from Ann Beattie makes it strikingly clear why she is known as one of "American literature's most adept explorers and interpreters of the unraveling edges of life" (Miami Herald).
From the elegiac story "The Famous Poet, Amid Bougainvillea," in which two men trade ruminations about the odd experience of being cared for by those you are meant to serve, to "The Big-Breasted Pilgrim," wherein a famous chef gets a series of bewildering phone calls from George Stephanopoulos, expressing Clinton's desire to dine at his house, to two stories in which family myths turn out to be both inaccurate and prescient, Perfect Recall comprises Beattie's most ambitious and complex work yet.
Choose a format:
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743211703 | 
  • February 2002
List Price $26.99

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Reading Group Guide

Perfect Recall
Ann Beattie, whose first published short story appeared in The New Yorker in 1973, 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 is a riveting commentary on the way we live now by a spectacular prose artist.
Discussion Points
1.In Perfect Recall 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" Che see more

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About the Author

Ann Beattie
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Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia (Emerita). She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.

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