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The Complete Stories

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  752 ratings  ·  56 reviews
BERNARD MALAMUD (1914-86) is considered a modern master of the short story, ranked with Chekhov and Isaac Babel. The Complete Stories of Bernard Malamud brings together all of Malamud's published stories--from the classic early story "The Magic Barrel," in which he refashioned the American short story in the Yiddish-infected idiom of his boyhood, to later works such as "Re ...more
Paperback, First Paperback Edition, 656 pages
Published October 12th 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1997)
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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  752 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Paul E. Morph
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really great collection of tales. Star ratings by story:

1. Armistice 5*
2. Spring Rain 4*
3. The Grocery Store 5*
4. Benefit Performance 4*
5. The Place is Different Now 5*
6. Steady Customer 3*
7. The Literary Life of Laban Goldman 3*
8. The Cost of Living 3*
9. The Prison 5*
10. The First Seven Years 4*
11. The Death of Me 4*
12. The Bill 4*
13. The Loan 5*
14. A Confession of Murder 4*
15. Riding Pants 3*
16. The Girl of My Dreams 3*
17. The Magic Barrel 3*
18. The Mourners 4*
19. Angel Levine 5*
20. A Summer
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I finally made it through one of the most difficult books I have ever read, Bernard Malamud’s The Complete Stories. One reason it took me so long to read is because short stories are not really my cup of tea. So I chose a story here and there (from the fifty-three) to read with lunch or a quiet midnight snack. I found myself gaining weight! I had to comfort eat while I read these sad, intense, Jewish stories. Drama and absurdity. Tragic immigrant lives. Merchants and artists all longing, only to ...more
Sara Gran
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My favorite short stories ever, especially The jew Bird, the Silver Crown, the Magic Barrell--wow, including everything, I guess, but especially The Angel Levine, perhaps the best short story of modern times. Seriously.
Michael Battaglia
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As I've mentioned before, if Malamud is known for anything its as a novelist, with one of his novels being adapted into a semi-famous movie and another winning the National Book Award. However, he was no slouch as a short story author either, with his first collection "The Magic Barrel" also winning the same award. Its the rare writer that can manage both formats with aplomb, as I've generally found that most short story writers who try to tackle novels wind up overwriting or taking an idea that ...more
Dec 22, 2012 marked it as not-now
Bernard, you will deny your Jewishness three times before the cock crows!

Sorry, just a random reflection on "The Lady in the Lake," which is pretty much bunk--but bunk with a point!

From what I've gathered, Malamud has about an ounce or two of cleverness, but that's pretty much it. Besides that, he's a mainstream hack who writes about ordinary schlubs who fantasize about Italian aristocratic beauties, run delicatessens, or contemplate suicide. Or maybe all three. His intentions are probably good.
Patrick Healy
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like fiction/short stories
Recommended to Patrick by: Matt Groening's forward to B.A.N.R. 2006
Favorites include "A Choice of Profession," "Rembrandt's Hat," "The Loan," "The Bill," "The Magic Barrell," "The Jewbird," "Naked Nude," "A Pimp's Revenge," "My Son the Murderer," and "Glass Blower of Venice." This is by far the largest collection of short stories I've ever read and probably the best. It rivals Flannery O'Connor's both in quality and quantity. The varied styles of writing are intriguing. Many of the stories end in complete chaos after brutal revelation by the protagonist. The st ...more
Ilse Wouters
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-english
Difficult to rate this collection of short stories, because some were really brilliant (5 stars), others were quite boring (2.5 stars), and very few I honestly couldnt understand at all (1 star).
Its said that Bernard Malamud is one of the masters of short stories, and this is certainly not untrue, but this collection is complete and it therefore also includes early stories where Im sure a lot of readers today have problems "getting it". Some of the later stories are almost try-outs for a more "
Diane Wilkes
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing collection this is, and fascinating to experience the arc of his work moving into experimentalism and ultimately becoming a very personal amalgam of tradition and stylistic innovations.

I am struck by how pure a fiction writer he is--his life experiences are pounded into the ore of his stories in such a holistic and non-egoistic way that they are simply another literary implement in the craftsman's tool kit. Modern writers often over-use biography to the point of artlessness.

Not M
Bob Klein
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've been told I like movies that have no plot. I suppose one could make the same indictment of my taste in books. Malamud's novels often seem to have no solid beginning or end, and some of his short stories share this quality. But in this way they feel more real, more lifelike. Malamud is an expert at showing us parts of ourselves that we'd rather not face. His characters make terrible choices and the reader is left wondering if they'd possibly do any better.

"Life, despite their frantic yoohooi
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finally read a Malamud collection and I’m satisfied with the vast majority of stories. I like the simplicity and clarity of his stories, he’s a masterful storyteller. The stories are all very tight, there’s little to no extraneous dialogue or information. He writes around depression era USA into the baby boomer time, often deep with religious and societal norms, pride, egoes, and follies. Admittedly some of those characters and there actions i just dont get, and yet they were interesting enoug ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of the early stories didn't really grab me, probably because I'd just read The Assistant and they were obviously early attempts at the themes and situations of that novel. But it picked up, and there are some very funny, insightful, and engaging stories about urban Jewish life, Italian tourists, art, and relationships. Mostly well written, although Malamud occasionally experimented with form and wasn't always successful.
Valerie Barnes
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
It is interesting that Flannery O'Connor felt Malamud was even better than she at writing short stories. Perhaps it is the subject matter of the stories (immigrant Jews in urban America) but it just didn't grab my attention (like O'Connor's stories, for example). This is a situation where I would love to take a short story course that discussed Malamud (and O'Connor, Monroe, Carver, Lahiri) so that I could better understand and thereby appreciate his work.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
As good a short story collection as I've read. And even though that is limited praise since every collection I've ever read has its ups and downs, this one (mostly since there's a bit of mid-late career experimenting that felt counterfeit barth or barthelme) has a tone that makes me feel what I want to feel.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like Malamud; however, to me most of the stories fell short. If you like short stories, look no further than Stefan Zweig - he is the master. The stories by Malamud simply seamed to be lacking in all aspects.
Dianne E Kayala
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Malamud has long been a favorite after having been introduced to his stories in Freshman English at the Univ of Mass in the 70's. I have read all of these in the past, but thoroughly enjoyed the re-read, especially"The Jewbird".
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some of these stories were very, others not so good. I find Malmaud easy reading. He's an author that never lets you down
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-20th
One-hundred shades of sadness, one thousand insights into the human heart and into the compassion we need to have for each other.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Bernard Malamud's collection of stories, which run the gamut from sad to surreal to very funny. The Sad:

The Mourners - the eviction of a long-term tenant provoked by a minor argument between him and the superintendent.

Black Is My Favorite Color - a Jew feels a connection with his black neighbors that will never be reciprocated.

The German Refugee - The King's Speech with no happy ending.

And there's also The Loan, The Cost of Living - still relevant today with its tale of a Mom and Pop
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Malamud is an extraordinarily fine writer.

His novels are solid, but his short stories are transcendent.

It's so difficult to write a short story that works,and, of course, since few people read short stories anymore, it's a lost art form. Malamud is one of the best. I suppose because of his subject matter -- Judaism with occasional forays int magic realism -- he is often classified with Isaac Bashevis Singer. I always think of him as the literary male equivalent of Alice Munro, though. Deep insig
Jody Sperling
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For such a massive volume, it is difficult to arrange my thoughts. Malamud achieved a feat I've never seen before: He failed to write a single uninteresting short story in his entire life. Some stood out, but none bored. Each of the Fidleman stories--save the last--is a masterpiece. "Still Life" may be the greatest short story I've ever read, certainly in the top three. "The First Seven Years", too, is extraordinary.

As one who had read several of Malamud's novels, and adored his long-form fictio
Ben Z.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are many memorable and heartbreaking stories in a vast collection that spans Malamud's 40-year writing career. The stories are arranged chronologically and the reader experiences his maturation as both an author and a man. While tragedy and loss are themes that run through much of the work, Malamud can also be darkly funny (see the "Jewbird") and delicately sentimental (see "Angel Levine").

This a lengthy anthology and some stories drag -- especially the ones from his protracted Italian ph
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Five stars feels silly, but four -- what is the point. I like the Silver Crown. I also like Rembrandt's Hat. Malamud seems like he was very sad. He seems like he was a realist to the point of everything being gray, and everyone being ugly. The Silver Crown is nice, because it is about a realist like that trying to get out, and trying to believe in something. Rembrandt's Hat is just about failure. No escape stuff.
May 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Malamud chronicles the lives of mid-20th century immigrants and working class Jews, along with a few tales of American scholars and artists visiting Italy, in this repetitive collection of stories. The best short stories in this book are those where the author allows his imagination to run wild; half of these stories could have been cut and it would have made for a shorter but more powerful read.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
If I only give this four stars, it's simply because the stories now seem a little dated. That said, Malamud is a genius and a big influence on my writing. No serious short story writer should be ignorant of his work.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
55 stories spanning a 45 year career. Aside from a few stinker stories from the 1960s and 1970s this collection is very enjoyable. As good as most of these stories are, however, none of them equal the elegance and beauty of his prose in the novel, "The Assistant". Still, recommended.
Essam M. Al-Jassim
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mr Malamud is a great short-story writer. His characters are so human that you can feel and meet them in any society you go to. His stories represent an astonishing abundance of narrative smarts and brilliant prose.
Ruthie Jones
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
From this collection I have read the following: The First Seven Years, The Magic Barrel, The Mourners, Angel Levine, Take Pity, The Last Mohican, Idiots First, The Jewbird, Man in the Drawer, and The Silver Crown
This is a large collection. Some stories were winners, some were not. Even the good ones seem a little dated now, but Malamud really is a wonderful writer of short stories. I think it might be his near perfect framing of a situation.
Jonathan Maas
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you want to read THE definitive collection of Short Stories of the 20th century - Malamud is your guy.

You can read pretty much everything he wrote here...

"Life is for the Living"...
"A Pimp's Revenge"...

Will take your breath away...!
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
I think the Jewbird short story is in this. That is an amazing piece. It still touches me.
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Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in Tsarist Russia, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“Life, despite their frantic yoohooings, had passed them by.” 3 likes
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