Thursday, April 06, 2006
When I was teaching literature I used a story called "Angel Levine" by Bernard Malamud. A poor old Jew named Morris with a mortally ill wife is surprised to find a black man in his kitchen, said black man claiming to be an angel sent by God to help him. The story is marvelous; when Morris Mishkin fails to believe in Angel Levine, the angel becomes a gambler, a pimp, and a petty gangster, and Morris must redeem his helper to achieve his own salvation. A community of black Jews in Harlem points him along the proper path, and of course everyone is redeemed at the end and Morris realizes the humanity of divine beings and the divinity of human beings. [Apparently there's a film version starring Harry Belafonte and Zero Mostel!]
Strangely, I'd never read anything else by Malamud until Idiots First, which I finished not ten minutes ago. ALL of these stories are excellent--the comic and the tragic. Check him out.