Short Stories: The Collected Stories, by Isaac Bashevis Singer

The May challenge book. I had the ’96 Farrar Straus edition so we went off its TOC for what we read (Dad has the Complete vs. the Collected).
Very entertaining, really liked a lot of them. Intensely detailed, plotted down to the last moment (even when there’s not much of a plot), really great dialogue, and lots and lots of crazy neurotics (“The Admirer”, for example. nuts!).
That said, they were arranged (way) too thematically. I mean four or five stories into dybbuks and devils tormenting innocent jews (I really didn’t realize there were that many devils in Judaic tradition) and they all start to seem a little too much the same (and you’ve still got another 20 on that topic to go). Then at the other end of the book, all the NYC stories were lumped together as well. Mixing the disparate types together might have made it an more enjoyable read (or I could have instituted my own mix and read out of order, but how was I to know they were grouped by type?) — not that it wasn’t enjoyable, but there were definitely stories where I thought “another one of these? just like the last four? really?”.
When you get to the NYC stories, there are quite a few where you suddenly see the influence he’s had on Philip Roth. “Old Love” for example shares so many of Roth’s current themes and similar personal details on the part of the protagonist. Dad thinks Singer (rather than Malamud) is really the model for Roth’s E.I. Lonoff (an elder writer who appears in some of Roth’s Zuckerman books).

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