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The People: And Other Uncollected Fiction

The People: And Other Uncollected Fiction

by Bernard Malamud, Robert Giroux

Includes Malamud's novel, The People, which was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1986, with the text presented as the author left it, as well as fourteen previously uncollected stories. Set in the nineteenth century, The People has as its hero a Jewish peddler who is adopted as chief by an Indian tribe in the Pacific Northwest.


Includes Malamud's novel, The People, which was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1986, with the text presented as the author left it, as well as fourteen previously uncollected stories. Set in the nineteenth century, The People has as its hero a Jewish peddler who is adopted as chief by an Indian tribe in the Pacific Northwest.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Malamud died in 1986, he left the first draft of a novel and 16 uncollected stories, 10 published in literary magazines, the remaining six among his papers. Collected here, they provide an excellent overview of his career. Most of the stories focus on tired, bewildered, vulnerable men (many of them Jewish, another form of alienation) trying to make sense of an uncongenial world. Among those written in the last years of his life are some that can rank with his best. ``Zora's Noise'' concerns a second wife who hears mysterious celestial sounds, and her cellist husband, who finally understands their significance. A splendid example of Malamud's mingling of the fantastical and the real, it resonates with wisdom and compassionate understanding. ``An Exorcism'' is a story within a story about a lame, lonely writer betrayed by his protege. The unfinished novel, The People , is a strange and wonderful adventure story, whose protagonist, a greenhorn emigre peddler, Yozip Bloom, becomes chief of an Indian tribe expelled from their lands by duplicitous white men. Beginning as a funny western, it gradually segues into a dark tale of perfidy and misery; his outline shows, however, that Malamud intended to conclude it on an affirmative note. Valuable both for its chronological span and for the genuine reading pleasure it affords, this is a must-have volume for anyone who treasures the work of one of the century's most talented writers. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This work brings out Malamud's final, unfinished novel, The People , together with 14 uncollected stories, written from the 1940s to the author's death in 1986. The People is a wry and unsettling story of a Jewish immigrant's adoption by a 19th-century Native American tribe and their struggle to survive the expansionist and genocidal practices of the U.S. government. Though less polished than his other published work, it nevertheless represents an attempt to probe the ways in which the ``promise'' of America was predicated upon the demise of its native people. The stories, though diverse, deal in different ways with the issue of ties that bind: family, marriage, and group loyalties versus individual dreams and desires. This is a significant addition to Malamud's singular work. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/89.-- Deborah Gussman, Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.

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The People and Uncollected Stories

By Bernard Malamud, Robert Giroux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 1989 Ann Malamud
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-0547-7



HERE'S YOZIP rattling around in his rusty wagon.

After escaping military service in the Old Country, he worked a year and bought the vehicle in St. Louis, Missouri. Yozip wore a Polish cap and trimmed his reddish beard every second week. Yet people looked at him as if he had just stepped out of steerage. An officious Jew he met in Wyoming told him he spoke with a Yiddish accent. Yozip was astonished because he now considered himself to be, in effect, a native. He had put in for citizenship the day after he had arrived in the New World, five years ago, and figured he was an American by now. He would know for sure after he had looked through the two or three official documents his cousin was keeping for him for when he got back from wherever he was going. He was going where his horse led him. They were drifting westward, a decent direction. Yozip thought of himself as a traveler who earned his little living on the road.

In Nebraska, he peddled for a peddler who had rented him a wagon full of dry goods. This man had struck it rich in California and now lived on his interest, though he kept his small business going. In Wyoming, they parted for ideological reasons: one hated pacifists, the other considered himself to be one. Yozip bought his fifth wagon and third nag, a beast called Ishmael. He sold a variety of small goods and knickknacks to farmers' wives who lived not too far off the main road. He sold them thread, needles, thimbles, ribbons, pieces of lace, and eventually dresses his cousin Plotnick shipped him from Chicago; he imagined the women who bought them liked to remember the figures they had once had. Some were ecstatic when Yozip appeared with his load of dry goods. He added new stock to his old stores. Now he moved farther west than he and his horse had gone before. Yet he often cursed himself for his restlessness because it added nothing to his life but restlessness.

He tried to recall the names of the states he had passed through. Some were words he could not remember, so when he came to a place with an Indian name he slowly spelled it out, more or less phonetically, and wrote it on a card he kept in his pants pocket. He moved into Idaho, stopping off for a while at Moscow. Nothing in Moscow reminded him of Moscow. Yozip trundled down into the Willamette Valley in Oregon and then tracked up into Washington. It amazed him to discover that he had come at last to the Pacific Ocean. He gave a short hooray and stopped to weep at the water's edge. Yozip removed both boots and tramped on the blue water in the Pacific. It was barely spring; the ocean was freezing but Yozip thoroughly washed and dried both feet before drawing on his leather boots. He soaped Ishmael and washed him down from head to hooves. Yozip cooked vegetables in a tin pot and treated his horse with respect. He spoke to him often, whispering into his good ear.

"You may be a horse to your mother," he said in Yiddish, "but to me nothing less than a friend."

The horse whinnied emotionally.

Now that he had traversed the land, or what was ultimately to be the United States of America — for the time of this story was 1870 and the country was astonishingly young and fertile — Yozip felt the moment had come to invent his fortune. He turned the wagon due north and headed up the Pacific Coast. He felt a hunger to be in a new place but had no idea where the hunger or the place had originated. Night after night he tracked it to the stars. They shone like piercing brilliant pearls. He felt more and more a broad love for nature but wasn't sure why. However it happened, nature made him feel serious and concerned, a sensible way to be. Nature was also in the sky, where many things came together; it was, he felt, something he had guessed out as the oneness of the universe. This thought astounded him because he had never had it before. He felt in himself a destiny he could not explain, except that when he approached it to claim it as his own it seemed to tear itself out of his hands and spin skyward. Yozip believed he could be somebody if he tried, but he did not know what or how to try. If a man did not know what to do next, could you call that a destiny?

Sometimes clusters of soldiers appeared in a field and quickly disappeared.

One of them fired a shot from a rifle at Yozip, but he fell on his belly and then quickly went his way. Ishmael had jumped two feet into the air. Yozip never saw the soldiers again; and besides he had heard the war was over, for which he cheered the Lord.

In Seattle, in a burst of imagination, he sold his wagon for an unheard song. Only one man would bid a cartwheel for it. So he kissed Ishmael goodbye forever. The horse whinnied briskly, pure morale. Yozip got rid of his dry goods, giving away an oversize housedress for a thin woman to a fat lady who laughed engagingly and plucked a white hair out of his beard. He went assaying in a swift stream for a day and a half and discovered a discolored stone that turned out — when he had licked it with his fuzzy tongue — to be a nugget of pure gold that someone might have lost out of a hole in his pants pocket. Yozip sold the nugget for a horse he mounted, and galloped around to see what there was to see. You can't tell until you get there and look twice. It then occurred to him he still had two mouths to feed; so Yozip headed eastward, looking for an honest day's hard work.


The Marshal

ONE DAY YOZIP, on his sleek black horse, rode into a town fifty miles east of Pocatello. He thought it was time to refresh himself because he was not feeling his best and the horse dawdled. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do next, but that was his state of mind these days. He would look for a room in a boardinghouse and rest a week before moving on. It already seemed to Yozip that something was wrong with his life although he had no idea what. It had occurred to him that the few people visible on the main street regarded him uncomfortably as he passed by on his horse. When he smiled at them they responded by looking away. Here you are peaceably entering a town on a new horse and everyone reacts as if they had known you for years and never liked you.

He sensed he was in the presence of error and wondered what it was. The town seemed to be silently awaiting and appraising him. As he trotted on, several more people appeared. The horse broke into a mild gallop. Yozip observed about a dozen men and a woman in a flowered hat standing at one side of the road, and a crowd of about twenty people gathered together farther up. He was tempted to raise his new cowboy hat to them but didn't like to misrepresent himself. He was surprised by and concerned about his thoughts. Either there is more to life or I am a fool. He had accomplished nothing to speak of. He rode on disheartened.

Yozip thought he would stop at a saloon, water his horse, and gulp down a glass of beer. If he stayed longer than tomorrow his first order of business was to find himself a job. He was looking for work and he was looking for a boardinghouse. He was not looking for, or at, this burly man who faced him with a drawn pistol.

"Git off, the stranger said to Yozip, pointing at his horse.

Yozip dismounted in a hurry.

"I'm Morgan Mahoney," said the man with the drawn gun. He pointed over his shoulder to another man in a slouch hat holding a smaller pistol.

"That there is my brother Bailey. Who the hell are you?"

"Yozip Bloom," he said. He did not like saying his name in public.

"Are you the one that is the new marshal?"

"No. I am a copitner."

"What the hell is that?"

"Yozip pantomimed driving a nail into a block of wood." A copitner, "he said carefully.

Morgan experienced a fit of laughter.

Bailey, his brother, broke into a long grin.

Morgan raised his .45, aimed, and shot Yozip's new hat off his head. The horse whinnied and was about to bolt, but Yozip grabbed him by his mane, drew the animal down, and calmed him by talking in his ear.

He picked up his hat from the dust and placed it on his head. Now Bailey shot the tall hat off his head, and Morgan shot at it again. The hat jumped two feet with three holes in its crown.

Yozip had to grab the reins hard to control his fearful, wildly bucking horse.

"Why do you shoot me in my hat?" he shouted.

Both brothers laughed aloud.

"Are you a greenhound?" Bailey said.

"Greenbug," said his brother.

"My name is not Greenburg. You got the wrong poddy. I come to the saloon for a gless beer. Is this the way somebody treats a strenger?"

He bent for his hat, thought twice, then straightened up quickly, leaving his cowboy hat on the ground in order to spare the horse's nerves.

A crowd of two dozen people, including a single Indian, stood in silence near the two wooden steps ascending to an open saloon door.

"I'm a peaceful man," Yozip explained. "I go now away. Kindly step aside and don't frighten my horse."

Morgan waved his Colt in Yozip's face.

"Dance," he said.

"I don't dance," said Yozip.

"Dance, you bastard Jew."

Morgan shot at his boot. Despite Yozip's wild grab at his reins the horse bucked, reared, kicked, and galloped toward the crowd on the other side of the road. The spectators scattered, but an old Indian wearing braids and a blanket grabbed the animal by the muzzle and slowly steadied him.

To end the comedy Yozip turned to Morgan and punched him severely in the throat. Morgan gazed at him, cross-eyed. He gasped as if his blood had curdled, and sank slowly to his knees as he passed out.

Bailey pointed his pistol at Yozip's head.

Yozip, who had always thought of himself as a man of limited means, tore the gun from his grasp and, before Bailey could figure out what the greenhorn was up to, brought the weapon down hard on his head.

An old sheriff wearing a star on his shirt then appeared at the doorway of the saloon. He descended the stairs in heavy slow steps.

As Yozip watched in disbelief the sheriff pinned a marshal's badge on Yozip's left suspender.

"This is our new marshal," the sheriff announced to the silent crowd. "I guess we kin stop lookin' now." He said to Yozip, "The town of Wilberforce will pay you $3.50 a day and a dollar more to feed your horse. As of right now you are officially on our payroll. All we ask is that you behave yourself and respect the law. I can't figger out why you didn't wire us you wuz comin'."

"You've got the wrong man," Yozip replied. "I am a copitner who is looking for a job, but not to be a marshal. This is not my line of work."

He handed the sheriff his tin star. But the sheriff refused to accept it, so Yozip pinned it back on his suspender strap. The applause of the crowd astonished him.



YOZIP, slightly drunk, walked into a wall.

At once his arms were pinned to his sides by two strong Indians who he knew had been trailing him, and a gag that smelled of horse was thrust into his mouth. Yozip wasn't sure they were Indians until he smelled the sour head of the brave squeezing his hard arm around the former peddler's neck. Yozip fought as best he could, grunting, rumbling, coughing, and though they made no attempt to cut off his breath, he felt himself about to fall unconscious. He heard an aborted groan he assumed was his, and when he was once again sanely aware of life and fate, he found himself seated stiffly on Bessie, his mare, who had been tethered nearby, both arms bound with leather thongs behind his back, the horses trotting crisply in the direction of the high Western half-moon.

For a long while three horses, spread single file, moved swiftly along the shore of a stream, then turned into a forest, Yozip's mare running rhythmically with the others, though her master, blindfolded and dismayed, had no idea where he was. He felt the shadows of trees flit by. Nobody tried to lead his horse, who moved on as if she had been born in the territory. Yozip felt the aftermath of a dyspeptic headache and cursed the beers he had drunk last night in the saloon. His bladder was cutting him and it shamed him to think how it would be if he was to let go his water in his buckskin pants.

The Indians galloped west, then abruptly changed direction and galloped east.

Now when Yozip counted the hoofbeats there was an additional horse and he realized that a third Indian had joined the company. Having no sense of his fate he began to fear it. The riders splashed across another stream, then galloped up a rising hill before descending into a long valley. Yozip sensed dawn risen on his head. When the offensive rag was snatched off his eyes, he counted five braves present, who were his captors and silent companions.

They were approaching an Indian village of large and small tepees decorated with symbols Yozip recognized from nowhere. His arms were unbound. He was allowed to dismount and was delivered into a tall tepee that rose like a mast above the earth. Then a gray-haired, weather-faced chief, in a ragged eagle-feather war bonnet, appeared and claimed his visitor. He pointed to a pit of cinders where Yozip was able to relieve himself without disgrace.

Having been kidnapped, he was already tensely running through his mind various plans of escape from this place he didn't know and couldn't describe.

The old Indian cast off his ceremonial bonnet with a suppressed yawn. He was at least seventy, with furrowed brow, deep eyes, tightly braided long hair, and a bent nose. For a minute he studied Yozip's face with a blank expression, saying nothing. Yozip attempted a short smile, as if to determine if it was still working, but evoked no serious response from the chief.

The old Indian at last spoke. "I had forbid you to be hurt," he said in English. "Did my braves hurt you?"

The ex-peddler, relaxed by the question, replied he hadn't been mistreated.

"They gave me also a gless water."

The chief grunted. He touched a finger to himself, then to Yozip. "We meet equal."

Yozip agreed in principle.

The old Indian admitted that the white man's tongue was not comfortable to him although he had once gone to a missionary school.

"It is a tongue of wind and noise. I do not trust it. But if you speak slow words I will answer to them."

"Slow is slow," Yozip agreed. "Excuse me that I tulk with my eccent. I am not an educated man."

This confession embarrassed him but he felt he must make it.

The chief stared at his mouth as if to discover the source of the accent. Unable to, he grunted, which might mean he took a man's word for what he said about himself.

"But I listen," Yozip said, forgetfully touching his shirt pocket to give his marshal's star a serious rub, though that was from another time and he was no longer a marshal. If anything, he was an unemployed carpenter adrift in a forest among a tribe of Indians. If the chief could use him to repair an old chest, or rebuild some shelves, they were in business. If not, he had no idea what the red men wanted of him.

The old chief, after a tick of silence, told Yozip he had seen him punish two evil men who had twice shot off his hat.

Yozip recalled the Indian who had skillfully caught his horse by the bridle and with a whisper calmed her. He explained to the chief that he was personally a peaceful man. "I am not anymore a town marshal. This is not my business."

"My tribe is of peaceful people," said the chief. "Only one white man has lost his life by an Indian's hand in the time of my life. We do not kill white men, though they bring no good to us. We live in peace."

Yozip, heartened, said it would interest him to know why the braves had kidnapped him last night. "What do you want from me?"

"We seek to do what the Great Spirit told us when this earth fell from the ocean sky. The sun and moon were candles. All men come from the Great Spirit, who made us born as men. His name is Quodish. Man spoke his words. They spoke then in one tongue. Quodish is the sun who is sacred.

"Is it not so?" he asked Yozip.

"To me this is reasonable," Yozip answered. "And if a man tulks to me reasonable I don't say to him no."

"Once red man and white were brothers. What one brother had of two he gave one to the other."

"Of cuss," Yozip said. "Who needs everything?"

The chief nodded seriously. Yozip responded with a nervous laugh.


Excerpted from The People and Uncollected Stories by Bernard Malamud, Robert Giroux. Copyright © 1989 Ann Malamud. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) also wrote eight novels, he won the Pulitzer Prize and a second National Book award for The Fixer. Born in Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.

Bernard Malamud (1914–86) wrote eight novels; he won the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for The Fixer, and the National Book Award for The Magic Barrel. Born in Brooklyn, he taught for many years at Bennington College in Vermont.
Robert Giroux is the editor of two collections of Elizabeth Bishop's writing, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux: The Collected Prose and One Art: Letters.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 28, 1914
Date of Death:
March 18, 1986
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
Place of Death:
New York, New York
B.A., City College of New York, 1936; M.A., Columbia University, 1942

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