Check out my The Magic Barrel book summary and review that I created to help you understand the basics of this great book. The Magic Barrel (Original Title: The Magic Barrel) is a collection of thirteen short stories written by Bernard Malmud and published in various journals (Partition Review, The American Mercury, Commentary, Discovery, America, and The New Yorker) since September 1950. Spring 1958.

The Magic Barrel
The book was first published in 1958 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In France, it appeared in a different order from the original version in 1967.

The Magic Barrel book summary :

Many of the personal stories collected in The Magic Barrel depict the search for hope and money in the dark surroundings of a poor urban environment. The story in the title sheds light on the unlikely relationship between Leo Finkel, an unmarried rabbinical student, and Pinie Salzman, a colorful marriage broker.

Finkel has spent most of his life with his nose buried in books and that is why he is not well educated in his life. However, Finkel has a larger interest - the art of romance. He was hired by Salzman, who showed Finkel several potential brides from his "magic barrel" but with each photo Finkel became more disinterested.

After Salzman persuades her to meet Lily Hirschner, Finkel realizes her life is really empty and lacks the passion to love God or humanity. When Finkel discovers a picture of Salzman's daughter and sees her suffering, he sets out on a new mission to save her.

Other well-known stories included in the collection are: "The Last Mohican", "Angel Levine", "The First Seven Years", and "The Murners". This last story centers on Kessler, an old man in conflict with the need for "social security" and Gruber, a belligerent landlord who no longer wants Kessler in tenancy.

The 13 stories included in The Magic Barrel are presented in the following order:

1. "The first seven years"
2. "The Moorners"
3. "My dream girl"
4. "Angel Levine"
5. "See the key"
6. "Please"
7. "Prison"
8. "Lady of the Lake"
9. "A Summer Reading"
10. "Bill"
11. "The Last Mohican"
12 "Debt"
13 "The Magic Barrel"

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