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So he calls upon the services of one Mr. Salzman to help him out… and ends up falling hard for his matchmaker's daughter. Do hijinks ensue? Nope, not really. More like sad, weird, introspective speculation on what it means to love God and humanity. But this story was making waves when it came out in , way before you spent time pondering if you'd like to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat.
It's widely considered one of the best American short stories, and the collection it appeared in—also called The Magic Barrel — nabbed Bernard Malamud a National Book Award. Because, even though the medium has changed, people have been seeking help in finding The One for eons. And the course of finding true love never did run smooth—especially in midcentury New York City. This is a story for everyone who has swiped idly through Tinder while waiting for a bus. Or anyone who has stayed awake late into the night answering questions like, "Do you like horror movies?
Or anyone who has read tutorials about how to frame the perfect profile picture. Or anyone who has sat through an awkward first date with someone you hardly knew, just because they had an adorkable profile. Before online dating, there was speed dating. Before speed dating, there were newspaper personal ads. And before personal ads, there was the local matchmaker. And the similarities between Leo Finkle's matchmaker mayhem and the online dating woes of today are eerie.
Leo's just as cynical as people today—he does the s equivalent of snickering and swiping left through the first batch of profiles that his matchmaker brings out.
He's as bummed as anyone after going on a failed first date. But underneath it all, he's just as hopeful, scared and willing to believe in some kind of magic as any online dater today.
Leo is a rabbinical student living in midcentury New York City and relying on a grizzled old matchmaker to find his Princess Charming. His life is about as different from ours as we can imagine… and yet he's still totally relatable in his quest for love. This story isn't all gooey "We're all the same! You know, kind of like the process of dating—in any time period. Background on the Author Here's a solid look at Malamud and his life. His bio will help you understand where the story came from.
Commentary on "The Magic Barrel" Commentary Magazine weighs in with another review when the book was first released. Malamud Reads! The Man Himself. Here is a rather handsome image of Bernard Malamud. You can only hope to contain him. Study Guide. By Bernard Malamud. The Magic Barrel Introduction Imagine if OkCupid or Tinder were way more serious… and completely controlled by a weird old dude who smells like fish.
Audio Malamud Reads!
The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud: Summary & Analysis
The Magic Barrel
Also, the Jewish Publication Society released its own edition at the same time. It won the U. National Book Award for Fiction. Many of the individual stories collected in The Magic Barrel depict the search for hope and meaning within the bleak enclosures of poor urban settings. The title story focuses on the unlikely relationship of Leo Finkle, an unmarried rabbinical student, and Pinye Salzman, a colorful marriage broker. Finkle has spent most of life with his nose buried in books and therefore isn't well-educated in life itself. However, Finkle has a greater interest — the art of romance.
The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud, 1958
In form, content, and, perhaps most of all, moral vision, critics have long regarded "The Magic Barrel" as quintessential Bernard Malamud. In the story Leo Finkle, an unmarried rabbinical student more familiar with books than with life, has been advised that he will find it easier to land a pulpit if he is married. Since Finkle has had virtually no experience in matters of the heart, he reluctantly agrees to engage the services of a professional matchmaker. Thus the wheels of Finkle's amorous quest and its ironic initiation are set into motion.