Bernard Malamud: A Summer’s Reading

5♦  5♦  5♦  5♦  5♦  5♦  5♦  5♦

It’s week 49 of my Deal Me In 2014 short story project.  Only three more stories to go.  This week I drew the Five of Diamonds and read Bernard Malamud’s story “A Summer’s Reading”.  My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

I tend to assume that authors are avid readers.  “A Summer’s Reading” does not disprove this assumption and I have every reason to believe that Pulitzer Prize winning author Bernard Malamud was an avid reader; however, Malamud seems very skilled at developing a character that isn’t a reader or at least is a procrastinating reader.

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George Stoyonovich drops out of high school and in order to preserve his image promises an elderly neighbor, Mr. Cattanzara, that he is reading a list of 100 books during the summer- to get the kind of education he “really needs”. Impressed, Mr. Cattanzara, spreads the news of George’s endeavor.  One of the more humorous aspects of the story arises from the neighbors continuously giving George knowing smiles as he passes by their doorsteps.  Of course, the smiles make George feel a little guilty for not really reading the books.  At the end of the summer, he finally sits down at his local library.  Do his books get read?  It’s hard to say.

Any story that is set in Brooklyn, New York in the 1930s or 1940’s holds some sort of interest with me.  Something about the neighbors hanging out on the doorstep in the cool of the city night during a hot summer makes for an enjoyable scene. I’ve mentioned before my infatuation with New York City.  I’ve only managed to make it there once and I didn’t make it to Brooklyn – only to Manhattan (Times Square and Central Park area). I didn’t get an I♥NY t-shirt but should have. “A Summer’s Reading” may not be high on plot details but any writing that can take me to another place and time, especially New York City, is worth reading.

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2 responses to “Bernard Malamud: A Summer’s Reading

  1. I’ve heard of Malamud of course, but I don’t remember ever reading anything by him. I like stories and novels set in NY also. (the Helprin story this year, e.g.) I just started reading – for another book club – the novel “The Tender Bar” which is set on Long Island but feels so far kind of like the “boy version” of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”

    Maybe a NY suit for Deal Me In is not a bad idea at some point(?) 🙂

    • In high school, I read The Fixer and I recently read The Natural. If I had to describe his style, it would say it’s understated. I almost read “The Tender Bar” a while back. I would be interested in what you think.

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