The Magic Barrel: Stories

The Magic Barrel: Stories

Bernard Malamud

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0374525862

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction

Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri

Bernard Malamud's first book of short stories, The Magic Barrel, has been recognized as a classic from the time it was published in 1959. The stories are set in New York and in Italy (where Malamud's alter ego, the struggleing New York Jewish Painter Arthur Fidelman, roams amid the ruins of old Europe in search of his artistic patrimony); they tell of egg candlers and shoemakers, matchmakers, and rabbis, in a voice that blends vigorous urban realism, Yiddish idiom, and a dash of artistic magic.

The Magic Barrel is a book about New York and about the immigrant experience, and it is high point in the modern American short story. Few books of any kind have managed to depict struggle and frustration and heartbreak with such delight, or such artistry.

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around dazedly at everybody, and tried to smile, and everybody there could see her teeth were flecked with blood. “Go home,” Tommy ordered the girl, but then there was a movement near the door and her mother came into the store. “What happened?” she said. “She stole my candy,” Rosa cried. “I let her take it,” said Tommy. Rosa stared at him as if she had been hit again, then with mouth distorted began to sob. “One was for you, Mother,” said the girl. Her mother socked her hard across the

because he hated them so much, especially the humpback behind the counter. If he ever smiled at him again with those goddam eyes he would lift him off the floor and crack his bent bones. That night he went out and got drunk and lay till morning in the gutter. When he returned, with filthy clothes and bloodied eyes, Etta held up to him the picture of their four-year-old son who had died from diphtheria, and Willy weeping splashy tears, swore he would never touch another drop. Each morning he

crumpled bills and received in return a newly-minted silver half dollar. He left. Miriam had not been mentioned. That night the shoemaker discovered that his new assistant had been all the while stealing from him, and he suffered a heart attack. Though the attack was very mild, he lay in bed for three weeks. Miriam spoke of going for Sobel, but sick as he was Feld rose in wrath against the idea. Yet in his heart he knew there was no other way, and the first weary day back in the shop

now.” “In God’s name, what do you mean?” “Her I can’t introduce to you,” Salzman cried. “Why are you so excited?” “Why, he asks,” Salzman said, bursting into tears. “This is my baby, my Stella, she should burn in hell.” Leo hurried up to bed and hid under the covers. Under the covers he thought his life through. Although he soon fell asleep he could not sleep her out of his mind. He woke, beating his breast. Though he prayed to be rid of her, his prayers went unanswered. Through days of

Leo said humbly. “Perhaps I can be of service.” Salzman had stopped eating and Leo understood with emotion that it was now arranged. Leaving the cafeteria, he was, however, afflicted by a tormenting suspicion that Salzman had planned it all to happen this way. Leo was informed by letter that she would meet him on a certain corner, and she was there one spring night, waiting under a street lamp. He appeared, carrying a small bouquet of violets and rosebuds. Stella stood by the lamp post,

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