Kirshenbaum’s gift for neurotic comedy has deepened into a more humane generosity . . . [Her characters are] deeply, even ludicrously flawed, but they’re not figures of fun because they all carry the existential burden of loneliness . . . Funny and compassionate.
— Washington Post

I n Brooklyn, in the Age of Disco, Valentine Kessler—a sweet Jewish girl who bears a remarkable resemblance to the Virgin Mary of Lourdes—has an unerring gift for shattering the dreams and hopes of those who love her. Miriam, her long suffering mother, betrayed and anguished by the husband she adores, seeks solace in daily games of mah-jongg with The Girls, a cross between a Greek Chorus and Brooklyn's rendition of the Three Wise Men, who dispense advice, predictions, and care in the form of poppy-seed cake and apple strudels. When her greatest fear for Valentine is realized, Miriam takes comfort in the thought that it couldn't get any worse. And then it does.

Sagacious, sorrowful, and hilarious, An Almost Perfect Moment is a novel about mothers and daughters, star-crossed lovers, doctrines of the divine, and a colorful Jewish community that once defined Brooklyn.

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Praise for An Almost Perfect Moment

"Kirshenbaum lays bare [a] collection of Brooklyn souls in the detached, supremely observational style of short story masters Raymond Carver and Ann Beattie . . . Filled with such almost perfect moments that define her characters' lives while echoing passages of our own."
—Boston Herald

"(A) darkly comic novel."
The New York Times

"Engrossing . . . The cinematic, effortlessly beautiful descriptions will spark the reader's imagination, and the myriad plot twists and turns will keep you guessing."
—Chicago Tribune

"What a unique and wry and poignant and altogether lovely book! Binnie Kirshenbaum creates characters at whom you first laugh, but then end up adoring. This is a story about the complicated nature of love, life, longing and loss by an extremely talented author who—make no mistake about it—does very difficult things and makes them look easy. In addition to being a great pleasure to read, it is a novel that will very likely make you think about your own life in unexpected ways.”
—Elizabeth Ber


"On the surface it's an unremarkable drama set in 1970s Brooklyn among housewives and school teachers, but An Almost Perfect Moment is irresistibly absorbing, filled with . . . pathos. Kirshenbaum's pitiable heroes pursue dignity and happiness by abusing those closest to them, and somehow emerge both noble and poetic in defeat."


"Kirshenbaum has an original voice and, even better, an original sensibility . . . An Almost Perfect Moment recalls the black comedy of Jewish American Literature of the '50s and '60s; we saw the same coziness and corrosiveness in Bruce Jay Friedman . . . and in early works by Philip Roth."
—Los Angeles Times

"A quicksilver fable that manages to be at once ironic and mystical, tender and edgy, loaded with schtick and downright subversive . . . Writing with diamond-like clarity, high imagination, mischievous wit, and a whole lot of chutzpuh, Kirshenbaum ingeniously and daringly inverts biblical tales and social mores to tell an exhilarating story of a living deity in an attempt to illustrate the obdurate mysteries of the human heart and the truly cosmic dimensions of love."

"Bitter truths [are] rendered palatable by the delicious sauciness of Kirshenbaum's prose."
—San Francisco Chronicle

"Rapture, longing, troubled faith, cruelty, contradictions, regret, and kindness An Almost Perfect Moment captures the strange and strangely common secrets that hold families together. Binnie Kirshenbaum's terrific novel is seemingly effortless, big-hearted, crushingly insightful, and joyfully readable."
—Ben Marcus