Books: Ending the Pane

REMBRANDT'S HAT by BERNARD MALAMUD 204 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

$6.95.

Never mind the current vogue for short-story writers who prove by incoherence that the world is crazy (a child's discovery). Never mind the other sort of story writer who leaves you after seven pages with a little stone of irony to hold in your cupped hands. Bernard Malamud writes to understand, and what he writes about and understands is suffering, which is to say the human condition.

His stories seem less fierce than his novels. There is nothing in the current collection, for instance, quite so passionate in its lamentation as his...

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