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The Magic Barrel Paperback – Bargain Price, July 7, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In the short story, Malamud achieved an almost psalmlike compression. He has been called the Jewish Hawthorne, but he might just as well be thought a Jewish Chopin, a prose composer of preludes and noctures."--Mark Shechner, Partisan Review

"There are thirteen stoires in The Magic Barrel and every one of them is a small, highly individualized work of art. This is the kind of book that calls for not admiration but gratitude."--Richard Sullivan, The Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) also wrote eight novels, he won the Pulitzer Prize and a second National Book award for The Fixer. Born in Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (July 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525862
  • ASIN: B005CDVLXA
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,236,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

All the stories are entertaining and well written.
Luci M.
I found this book to be both an easy read and very moving.
Lazyboy
I was pleasantly surprised with his style of writing.
Linda Sharp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lazyboy on December 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
It was such a pleasure to read these stories. Each story grabs you quickly, and makes its narative thrust accessible. His stories don't stray from his simple narratives; there is very little excess or digression.
The stories are very personal and moral without being preachy. He knows how to capture people's moral ambivalence without judging them or resorting to stereotypes.
I found this book to be both an easy read and very moving.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack L. Keller on July 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
This set of stories surprises one with breadth of understanding which it exhibits. From the first story ("The First Seven Years") which deals with a father's desire to provide the best for his daughter through the last story ("The Magic Barrel")which provides an interesting contrast to the first, all of these stories expand on the single theme of human experience.
The frustration built upon in "The Key" and "The Last Mohican" if offset nicely by the humor in "A Summer's Reading" and "The Lady of the Lake". "Take Pity" and "The Mourners" offer great insigth into growing old and dealing with lonliness. While "Angel Levine" is probably the most off beat of the set it still manages to increase hope, whereas "The Prison" causes an equal loss of faith in the human race.
The 12 stories here provide a wonderful evening's reading, however if your looking for more they are included in the books of his complete stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on December 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Malamud does three or four tricks in his fiction well, and here he does each one to utter perfection. And when taken together, this collection of stories almost transcends Malamud's normal limits: the stories are compressed, short, and below the surface, charged with almost unbearable tension. Unlike other collections of stories (or when you read too many Malamud stories) Malamud does not parody himself in the Magic Barrell. Everything is where it is supposed to be, and works like a well oiled machine. It is a shame that (as of writing this) only eight people have reviewed this masterpiece of a short story collection. In Roth's The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman explains that the world's morality has already passed by the E.I. Lonoff's (a character based on Malamud). Seems Roth was correct... and this is true even more today, thirty years after the publication of The Ghost Writer. We no longer live in Malamud's world, and it is a shame.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Schmerguls VINE VOICE on May 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Since this book won the 1959 National Book Award, and I had not read it, I found a copy and was amazed at the power of the stories. I usually am not too enamored of short story collections, since I don't appreciate starting anew every few pages in a book. But this book is an exception. I was amazed at how quickly one became caught up in each story. The first story is The First Seven Years, and is a most touching story, setting the reader up most felicitously for enjoyment of each of the following 12 stories.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
These stories are pervaded with a certain sadness and disappointment, a sense of life as largely a trial in suffering. They are also however deep in a kind of quiet beauty, a unique language of slightly Yiddishized American colloquial restraint. The title story, and the most famous one tells of the hopes and disappointments of poor Jews seeking to find their ' bashert' their destined mate. It touches upon the world of tormented souls selling illusions to themselves and others. It really moves us with the sense of how the dreams of life turn bitterness into greater bitterness, with longing disappointment beauty. These stories are for those who are willing to read and take inspiration from the sadnesses of life, that nonetheless enrich our human meaning.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beatrice Izzey VINE VOICE on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
These stories about New York, even when read fifty years later by someone like me from a totally different demographic, in Los Angeles, are still relevant. There are universal self-loathing themes for all immigrants, at all times. I wouldn't call it immigrant lit, but it's more like human diaspora lit, the transience of people, and how people make sense, however limited, of the world around them. Strongly recommend. Malamud is able to make writing about trash untrashy, but not in a falsely glorifying way, but in a humanizing way. These are real short stories, not failed novellas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hwang on May 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bernard Malamud, is one of the innumerable Jewish writers who have won prestigious awards, among others such as Philip Roth and Joseph Heller, whose work are not only highly regarded within literary circles but also receive much critical acclaim and enjoy tremendous popularity internationally, with this anthology, which won the 1959 National Book Award, being no different.

The short stories featured in this anthology are well written, accessible - although at times obscure, incorporate well developed characters, are full of pathos - aptly capturing the sufferings of the Jewish people, and will go down in the annals of history as one of the finest short story collections of all time.

Bernard Malamud saved the best for last, with the namesake of this anthology, The Magic Barrel, which won him the National Book Award, serving as the culmination of this collection of short stories; an endearing tale revolving around a priest falling deeply in love with a prostitute and attempting to bring about her redemption - a touching and poignant theme that speaks about redemption and second chances.
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