Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Assistant

by Bernard Malamud

Dorian: I love his stories and am teaching them extensively this semester, but I have never read any of his novels. Time to rectify that omission with all of you.

Tyler: About a third of the way in.  Malamud seems to keep the narration at arms length from the characters. We are privy to some of their thoughts and feelings, but it seems that they all (with the possible exception of Helen) are not particularly self aware. They do not seem in control of their lives, but are pushed here and there by fate - and this creates a somber tone. It is also very visual - easy to see in the mind's movie theatre.

     He asked were what book she was reading.
     "The Idiot. Do you know it?"
     "No. What's it about?"
     "It's a novel."
     "I'd rather read the truth," he said
     "It is the truth."

Tyler: (Something of a spoiler alert - something of a warning). At close to 3/4 in, there is an incident that I found very difficult to read.  In fact I had to put the book down for a while. There are some ugly things in this world I know exist but I try to forget about...perhaps it is wrong of me. Perhaps when we ignore these things it creates the environment that allows them to continue. I admire this book for it's willingness to expose dark truths...but I would caution you all to be ready for some heavy shit. I'm going to watch youtube clips of cute kittens now.

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