Picks and Pans Review: The Collected Stories

UPDATED 05/17/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/17/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Isaac Bashevis Singer

There are 47 stories by the 1979 Nobel Prize winner in this volume. Gimpel the Fool is a well-known classic, Yentl the Yeshiva Boy is being made into a movie by Barbra Streisand, and all the tales have "the marginal power of merging causality with purpose, doubt with faith, the passions of the flesh with the yearnings of the soul." That quote is from Singer's introduction; he is not modest. (Brief, yes, but never modest.) He goes for the big themes: life and death, evil and good, devils and saints. His stories may seem old-fashioned. But while his characters are Jews and rabbis and other rebbes (spiritual leaders), with all the trappings of their religion, the stories could be set in a small town in Arizona and still be instantly real and alive. In addition, Singer is funny in special, sly ways. He can write: "Like all forms of life, I too wanted to be fruitful, wanted to multiply—or at least go through the motions." There are only two things for readers to do about this collection. Buy a copy. Enjoy. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $ 19.95)

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