Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Home is the Hero – Bernard Malamud



Bernard Malamud- April 26, 1914 – March 18, 1986.

I wrote in my last entry about losing interest early in the particular reading and not giving the story the chance that it deserved...cheating myself out of a lesson. I’m afraid I did the same with this story, but I was able to pull through at the end, and see the gem that was hidden within this boulder.

First about Malamud. As part of this project, I do a bit of research on the authors. I look for a photo to include with the entry, a nice quote by the author concerning life, or more specifically, the writing life, and from time to time, I’ll find an author that has an online presence and I’ll write to them and let them know that there is still a reader out there reading their work.

For some reason, I had heard of Malamud. Not sure where. Perhaps it was from “The Natural” or on of the literary prizes he won. In any case, it was nice to learn about him. I discovered that he was a slow writer. Eight novels and many, many shorts.

He taught at a university and was restricted to teaching lower courses because he had not finished his Ph.D. Due to this, he was able to devote time to his writing which in turn allowed him to develop into on of the greatest American authors.

Flannery O’Connor had this to say about him : “I have discovered a short-story writer who is better than any of them, including myself”. Nice I suppose but a bit haughty...then again, it is O’Connor.

And then a couple of quotes I enjoyed.

"I write a book or a short story three times. Once to understand her, the second time to improve her prose, and a third to compel her to say what it still must say."

"Life is a tragedy full of joy."

So, on to the story and its lesson.

A mistake I made before I started this story was to look to see where I was in the volume, and if I was going to be able to finish it by the end of the weekend. I assured myself that I could, and set out reading the story. Initially found the story dull, and made another mistake of flipping ahead to see how many more pages I had left in the story. I discovered that there were quite a few more pages and this took the wind right out of my sails. I would struggle on 2 or 3 more occasions to finish the story, but once I did finish, I discovered that what I had just read was indeed one of the best stories in the collection.

Perhaps I needed to take the story in parts. Break it up. Read it in different settings. I’ll have to remember this.

The lesson.

Once again, I feel that this story has opened a door to my life and reminded me that the behavior I cast upon my loved ones may not be the finest I have to offer.

I need patience. I need to see that what those close to me are actually doing done out of love. I am so fortunate to have a life and a family that dwell in a sphere of caring and compassion for each other. Especially my wife.

It was painful to read of the actions that the main character put his wife through and eventually himself through. I suppose it was so because they were actions that I could see myself projecting (minus the infidelity part).

Once again, a story comes through at the right time in life and instructs.

I can easily see myself Xeroxing these someday for someone and giving them out as lessons in life. – Why not?

For now though, I’ll use them to instruct me – in love, and care and selflessness.

Score 9 out of 10.

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