Posted in Short Stories

Bernard Malamud: Rembrandt’s Hat (Deal Me In 2017 – Week 52)

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Wonderful Town

That evening, leaving the building, they tipped hats to each other over small smiles.

The beauty of Bernard Malamud’s story “Rembrandt’s Hat” lies in the relationship between the two men around which the story revolves. They are not best friends nor worst enemies; instead, they are colleagues at an art school and could simply be considered acquaintances.

Arkin comments on Rubin’s hat one day and an inner turmoil ensues when he feels he has unintentionally offended Rubin. While the story never mentions loneliness or isolation, it’s not difficult to understand the possibility of these feelings with the two men. At the same time, I feel like this interpretation lacks something. The two men have a community of sorts and the story might be telling us that a community can be made of relationships that, even if they don’t run deep, can still be meaningful.

I read this story when I selected the Six of Hearts for Week 52 of my Deal Me In 2017 short story project. It is included in my copy of Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker edited by David Remnick.  My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

This also concludes my Deal Me In 2017 short story project. Look for an upcoming post with my list of short stories for Deal Me In 2018. Also, look for a post about my final Jane Austen novel Northanger Abbey.

 

3 thoughts on “Bernard Malamud: Rembrandt’s Hat (Deal Me In 2017 – Week 52)

  1. Hi Dale,

    Congrats on completing DMI 2017. Sorry I kinda fell apart as the ‘lead man’ of the challenge this year, but I’m making a resolution to go back to ‘heavier involvement’ in the new year. DMI is certainly more enjoyable for me than chess competition, which is what has robbed me of so much blogging time this year.

    I really like your idea that ” the story might be telling us that a community can be made of relationships that, even if they don’t run deep, can still be meaningful.” I sense this must be true, even if we can’t “prove” it.

    I thought about doing another suit of stories from The New Yorker in 2018 (as I have once before in DMI) but eventually my Russian Emigree stories won out.

    Good luck & happy reading in the new year!

    -Jay

    1. Hi Jay, I saw your tweets and facebook posts about your chess competitions and they looked really interesting. I know the general idea of chess but am by no means at your level.

      I am excited that you are continuing with Deal Me In 2018. I have my list together and will post it soon. I also did not use any topics but went with a miscellaneous group of stories from what is already on my shelf. I guess that does mean there will be some stories from previous year’s topics.

      Looking forward to your Russian authors as well as William Trevor.

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