The Magic Barrel: Stories
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.
together —the loss of both his children, his means of livelihood, Fanny’s health and his—that was too much to ask one frail-boned man to endure. Who, after all, was Manischevitz that he had been given so much to suffer? A tailor. Certainly not a man of talent. Upon him suffering was largely wasted. It went nowhere, into nothing: into more suffering. His pain did not earn him bread, nor fill the cracks in the wall, nor lift, in the middle of the night, the kitchen table; only lay upon him,
full-dress pants that had a razor slit all the way down the seat. “You’ll excuse me, please, gentleman,” said Manischevitz, admiring the tailor’s deft, thimbled fingerwork, “but you know maybe somebody by the name Alexander Levine?” The tailor, who Manischevitz thought, seemed a little antagonistic to him, scratched his scalp. “Cain’t say I ever heared dat name.” “Alex-ander Lev-ine,” Manischevitz repeated it. The man shook his head. “Cain’t say I heared.” About to depart, Manischevitz
from your dead husband. Believe me, I know from such stores. After thirty-five years’ experience I know a graveyard when I smell it. Go better some place and find a job. You’re young yet. Sometime you will meet somebody and get married.’ “‘No, Rosen, not me,’ she said. ‘With marriage I am finished. Nobody wants a poor widow with two children.’ “‘This I don’t believe it.’ “‘I know,’ she said. “Never in my life I saw so bitter a woman’s face. “‘No,’ I said. ‘No.’ “‘Yes, Rosen, yes. In my
countess had become a caretaker? She was a natural-born queen, whether by del Dongo or any other name. So she had lied to him, but so had he to her; they were quits on that score and his conscience was calm. He felt things would be easier all around now that the air had been cleared. Freeman ran down to the dock; the sun had set and the boatmen were home, swallowing spaghetti. He was considering untying one of the rowboats and paying tomorrow, when he caught sight of someone sitting on a
she had lived—had somehow deeply suffered : it could be seen in the depths of those reluctant eyes, and from the way the light enclosed and shone from her, and within her, opening realms of possibility: this was her own. Her he desired. His head ached and eyes narrowed with the intensity of his gazing, then as if an obscure fog had blown up in the mind, he experienced fear of her and was aware that he had received an impression, somehow, of evil. He shuddered, saying softly, it is thus with us