Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life by Philip Davis, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life

Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life

by Philip Davis

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Philip Davis tells the story of Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), the self-made son of poor Jewish immigrants who went on to become one of the foremost novelists and short-story writers of the post-war period. The time is ripe for a revival of interest in a man who at the peak of his success stood alongside Saul Bellow and Philip Roth in the ranks of Jewish American


Philip Davis tells the story of Bernard Malamud (1914-1986), the self-made son of poor Jewish immigrants who went on to become one of the foremost novelists and short-story writers of the post-war period. The time is ripe for a revival of interest in a man who at the peak of his success stood alongside Saul Bellow and Philip Roth in the ranks of Jewish American writers. Nothing came easily to Malamud: his family was poor, his mother probably committed suicide when Malamud was 14, and his younger brother inherited her schizophrenia. Malamud did everything the second time round - re-using his life in his writing, even as he revised draft after draft. Davis's meticulous biography shows all that it meant for this man to be a writer in terms of both the uses of and the costs to his own life. It also restores Bernard Malamud's literary reputation as one of the great original voices of his generation, a writer of superb subtlety and clarity. Bernard Malamud: A Writer's Life benefits from Philip Davis's exclusive interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, unfettered access to private journals and letters, and detailed analysis of Malamud's working methods through the examination of hitherto unresearched manuscripts. It is very much a writer's life. It is also the story of a struggling emotional man, using an extraordinary but long-worked-for gift, in order to give meaning to ordinary human life.

Editorial Reviews

Lee Siegel
…[a] wise, scrupulous, resolutely admiring biography…Davis is out to remove the slur of moral uptightness and narrow virtue from Malamud's reputation. Gratifyingly, he wants to restore him to the pantheon of great American writers in which Malamud, in our flash-in-the-pan culture, once belonged.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill coined the phrase "All politics is local." Gillespie (political science, Emory Univ.) gives us the nuts and bolts of local politics in Newark, NJ, but, in contradiction of O'Neill, makes the mistake of projecting her local findings nationwide onto an entire new generation of African American politicians. Every political race is different owing to the personalities involved, money, the media, voting constituencies, local issues, and unforeseen circumstances. In short, in most cases politics cannot truly be treated as a "science," but must be considered as an art and an exercise in management. The author gives us very little on Newark Mayor Cory Booker's personal life but offers several tedious regression analyses that simply prove the obvious. The book is full of statements such as "a significant number of Whites still view Blacks negatively" and "hearing a candidate lies or is not smart could have a serious impact on voters' desire to support him." VERDICT This book may be of some interest to scholars of black or urban politics but will have difficulty holding the attention of readers generally interested in the 2012 presidential race.—R.B. Slater, Stroudsburg, PAPsychology
Library Journal

Bernard Malamud (1914-86) was one of America's major post-World War II Jewish writers. Here, Davis (English literature, Liverpool Univ.; The Victorians, 1830-1880) does an excellent job describing the interrelation between Malamud's difficult life and his profound art. He gives a careful and honest account of Malamud's upbringing (his mother and brother both suffered from mental illness), his early poverty, and his complicated marriage and clearly describes Malamud's dedication to his art and his desire to be a good and moral person. He further examines Malamud's short stories and novels (e.g., The Natural; The Assistant; The Fixer) for themes, ideas, and symbols. In an important contribution, Davis shows Malamud's drafts at various stages of completion, explaining how Malamud created his style through the development of structure, language, and rhythm. This first full-length biography of the author, for which Davis drew on private journals and letters and interviewed many of Malamud's family members, friends, and colleagues, is a wonderful addition to Malamud studies; recommended for literature collections.
—Gene Shaw

From the Publisher

At the beginning of the 21st-century, a vanguard of young, affluent black leadership has emerged, often clashing with older generations of black leadership for power. The 2002 Newark mayoral race, which featured a contentious battle between the young black challenger Cory Booker and the more established black incumbent Sharpe James, was one of a series of contests in which young, well-educated, moderate black politicians challenged civil rights veterans for power. In The New Black Politician, Andra Gillespie uses Newark as a case study to explain the breakdown of racial unity in black politics, describing how black political entrepreneurs build the political alliances that allow them to be more diversely established with the electorate.

Based on rich ethnographic data from six years of intense and ongoing research, Gillespie shows that while both poor and affluent blacks pay lip service to racial cohesion and to continuing the goals of the Civil Rights Movement, the reality is that both groups harbor different visions of how to achieve those goals and what those goals will look like once achieved. This, she argues, leads to class conflict and a very public breakdown in black political unity, providing further evidence of the futility of identifying a single cadre of leadership for black communities. Full of provocative interviews with many of the key players in Newark, including Cory Booker himself, this book provides an on the ground understanding of contemporary Black and mayoral politics.

Article: Black politics, reinvented — speaks to Andra Gillespie

Product Details

OUP Oxford
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Meet the Author

Philip Davis is Professor of English Literature in the School of English, University of Liverpool. He has been reading Malamud for over thirty years. The opportunity for this Englishman to write the first-ever biography of this major American novelist arose as a result of a chance meeting at a graduation ceremony in Liverpool, when news reached him that the Malamud family were looking for a biographer after nearly twenty years of discouraging the writing of a life.

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