The Complete Stories

Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Robert Giroux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

656 Pages



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Bernard Malamud, author of such classic American novels as The Natural and The Fixer, is also considered a modern master of the short story, ranked in this respect alongside Chekhov and Isaac Babel. The Complete Stories of Bernard Malamud brings together all of Malamud's published stories—from the classic early yarn "The Magic Barrel," in which he refashioned the American short story in the Yiddish-inflected idiom of his boyhood, to later works such as "Rembrandt's Hat" and "Alma Redeemed," which dramatize the relationship between life and art with matchless intensity and dark comedy.


Praise for The Complete Stories

"Malamud grips the reader as tightly as a vise, his vision as honest, unsparing, and tender as the gods."—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"Malamud [is], I think, one of the best American short story writers of this century. He reminds me, strangely enough, of the implacable Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor, one of Bern's true colleagues (and his admirer), for they share the sense that eternity's always focused down to this moment, this choice: will one do justice to those close to us, here, now?"—Jay Cantor, The New York Times

"The Complete Stories offers an excuse to old-timers to see whether the years have treated their favorites kindly and an invitation to newcomers to decide for themselves whether Malamud is worth rediscovering. And for the dedicated soul who will read straight through from the first story to the 55th, there is the opportunity to follow the development—or the zigzags—of his style, imagination and concerns, to trip over his weaknesses and be lifted up again by his strengths."—Walter Goodman, The New York Times Book Review

"Glittering gems that dazzle with a different splendor with each turn in the light, these stories ask timeless questions even as they enchant."—Dan Cryer, Newsday

"It is a deep pleasure to return to Malamud's work more than a decade after his death and to rediscover his magic. To read these 55 stories is to trace the evolution of one of the surest voices of the perplexing postwar era. Robert Giroux, Malamud's longtime editor, captures the essence of the man in his deft introduction, establishing a biographical context for these evocative stories. Right from the start, Malamud wrote with rock-solid authority, composing tales as morally resonant as Bible stories, as mystical as any fairy tale, and as artfully disorienting as any painting by Chagall, even when they are set in the grittiest of Bronx tenements. His sharply drawn characters are poor in comfort and rich in suffering. Bitter irony abounds; obstinacy rules; annoying strangers change the course of lives; and love is perverse and untenable. In The Magic Barrel, for instance, a lonely rabbinical scholar retains a matchmaker only to realize his lack of faith in God. In other tales, a peddler won't rest until a cop apologizes for insulting him, and a wife berates her grocer husband nearly to death, than panics at the thought of losing him. In a luminous series of Italian stories, many involving the hapless but charming Arthur Fidelman, 'a self-confessed failure as a painter,' Malamud dramatizes the disorientation of American Jews abroad, the dangers of romanticism, and the waywardness of human nature, intricate subjects that continued to inspire him to the very end of his brilliant writing life."—Booklist

"A generous, invaluable volume that collects the 53 stories published during his 40-year career by a master of both realism and surrealism, a writer who begins to look more and more like one of the very best modern American writers. This differs from the earlier Stories (1983) in including the total contents of such acclaimed (and award-winning) collections as The Magic Barrel, as well as several early efforts (of which the forgotten Armistice is especially impressive), and a scattering of others retrieved from the magazines in which they originally appeared. An unmistakable voice, terse and ironical while simultaneously colloquial urban-Jewish, sounds throughout these rich tales, which manage to be remarkably varied despite their emphasis on Malamud's trademark themes of victimization and loneliness. The exceptions are several sardonically amusing portrayals of the scapegrace flawed artist Arthur Fidelman, and the late, complex 'fictive biographies' of such subjects as Virginia Woolf and Alma Mahler (In Kew Gardens and Alma Redeemed, respectively) that seem to have developed out of his 1979 novel, Dublin's Lives. But the essential Malamud is found in his moving studies of the claims of charity and the consequences of acknowledging or denying one's kinship with others (Idiots First, Take Pity), and more specifically of Jews unable to escape their heritage and its responsibilities (Man in the Drawer, The Last Mohican). On another level, the imperatives of belonging are ingeniously rendered in such celebrated fantasies as Angel Levine, The Jewbird, and The Silver Crown, an overlooked story that is one of Malamud's greatest. Even readers who think they know his work well may be surprised at how powerfully some of the lesser known stories continue to resonate (The Bill and the moving Rembrandt's Hat are exemplary). A landmark book that belongs on the same shelf with the collected stories of John Cheever and Issac Bashevis Singer. 'Believe me, there are Jews everywhere,' intones a representative Malamud character. Believe me, we believe him."—Kirkus Reviews

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Acclaimed for his short stories, Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) received two National Book Awards (for The Magic Barrel and the novel The Fixer) and the Pulitzer Prize (for The Fixer). A native of Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College.
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  • Bernard Malamud; Introduction by Robert Giroux

  • Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) published eight novels, including The Fixer, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The Magic Barrel, a collection of short stories, also won the National Book Award. Born in Brooklyn, Malamud was a beloved teacher for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.
  • Bernard Malamud Copyright Seymour Linden