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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece
This is one of the finest American novels of the 20th century. Malamud's novel is so poignant that the reader is completely drawn in and begins to sympathize with the characters in the story. The story itself is extremely interesting and is guaranteed to entertain.
Published on 29 April 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure about this one.
This is a hard book to review. It is well written and draws you in, wanting to know what happens. However - I found the characters annoying and didn't like any of them. The father is too much a martyr, Frank is creepy and Helen is weak and annoying. I didn't really understand why Frank stayed there at all. The end too is incredibly abrupt, unexplained and just plain...
Published 3 months ago by Dalrannoch


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece, 29 April 2001
By A Customer
This is one of the finest American novels of the 20th century. Malamud's novel is so poignant that the reader is completely drawn in and begins to sympathize with the characters in the story. The story itself is extremely interesting and is guaranteed to entertain.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice, though dark read., 2 May 2004
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Svend Tofte (denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Assistant (Paperback)
I found this book amongst my dad's extensive book collection. I picked some that seemed interesting, and this was the first I sunk my teeth into.
As the backcover no doubt tells, this book is about the insistent promises of one man, to do better. I guess everyone is somehow plagued by the "easier said then done" phrase. The main charecter in this book certainly is.
Frank (which is his name), is a drifter of sorts. A man with no place to call home, wandering the streets, doing petty works here and there. He falls upon the small store owned by the other main charecter in the book, the jew Morris. Through impressive initial display, Frank secures a job at the otherwise sad little store (competing with a store around the corner, and the owner is aging). Frank gets paid virtually nothing (though he insists that he enjoys the work, because Morris saved Franks life, by taking him in, and otherwise providing for him). What Morris doesn't know, is that Frank is secretly pocketing money, under his very nose. Frank does bring in more customers (or Morris is led to believe that it's Franks doing, when it's only because the store around the corner is doing bad), and works hard, to bring new life to the lifeless store. Frank uses this in his eternal internal moral fight, to justify stealing a few dollars from the cashregister. Frank tells himself, that he WILL pay the money back. He even keeps a note of what he takes, in his shoe, as "proof" (to himself most likely).
This is just the beginning of the story. When it starts to involve a love story, between the gentile Frank, and Morris attractive daughter, is just goes from there. Frank leaves behind him countless failed moral goals.
For this, the novel succeeds very well. In showing this side of us all. The constant setting of goals, unattainable by the very people who set them, with good intentions.
The novel also has another side, which I perhaps due to cultural (and temporal) differences do not comprehend fully. Basicly, to be a jew, is to be miserable and hardworking with nothing to show for it. I don't understand this part of the novel, but it does blend seamlessly with the resst of the novel. Morris' fear of Frank, as he senses that something is amiss, only furthers the feeling, that to be a jew, is to be miserable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure about this one., 18 April 2014
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This review is from: The Assistant (Kindle Edition)
This is a hard book to review. It is well written and draws you in, wanting to know what happens. However - I found the characters annoying and didn't like any of them. The father is too much a martyr, Frank is creepy and Helen is weak and annoying. I didn't really understand why Frank stayed there at all. The end too is incredibly abrupt, unexplained and just plain baffling. I really am not sure what to think about it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting study in human nature, 4 Mar 2012
By 
R. A. Davison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Assistant (Paperback)
Not to be confused with the Robert Walser novel of the same name, it appears you can only buy this novel second hand on Amazon UK now which is a great shame, it is possibly out of print, at least in this country, I bought mine second hand and it's a really good quality edition.

I had been urged to read The Assistant by a number of people a couple of years ago. Books often take time to arrive at their turn, and so it came to pass that I gave The Assistant a go.

In The Assistant, a lowly shopkeeper, Morris Bober ekes by a small living in a run down delicatessen with his wife and daughter, verging on penniless, their existence is a narrow one. Morris and his wife rarely leave their shop and living quarters, and because of their poor finances their daughter can only attend night school not college proper. Helen Bober too, has begun to narrow her own existence, embarrassed by her poverty she cuts off contact with friends and shuts down a relationship with a wealthier man.

Into the midst of this comes a sudden attack, the Bober's have apparently been targeted for a robbery the fundamental cause being anti-semitic in nature. The robbers take what they can, but Bober has little to give anyway. After becoming injured during the robbery Bober is forced to take on an Assistant, and after discovering Frank Alpine sleeping in his cellar, hires him in exchange for lodgings.

But is Frank Alpine all he seems to be??

The Assistant is very well written, and so is enjoyable from that angle, but it has a dour nature and a grimness that in the end doesn't strike the uplifting note that I was led to believe it would at least not for me personally. Frank Alpine is difficult to identify with considering his behaviour and I couldn't warm to him. Helen's existence but lack of life and youth depressed me, old before her time. That said it's character portraits are very sound, detailed, rich. But would somebody really behave as Frank does?? I'm not sure.

The nature and reasoning behind anti-semitism has always confused me and continues to do so in this novel, to hate someone merely for being a Jew alone, seems not merely racism or prejudice but entirely lacking in logic. It makes me sad.

All in all, it is a good book, an interesting study in human nature but I will probably pass it on and not read it a second time 7/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric And compelling, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: The Assistant (Kindle Edition)
In many ways, this is a novel about nothing. It reminds me of 'the grapes of wrath'. The characters are a group of poor people who are struggling to make a living, often at the expense of fulfilling their personal dreams. In reviews, much has been made of the fact that they are Jewish, but I wonder whether this is incidental. They could probably have come from ant poor community. Tithe characters are utterly compelling and the unfolding narrative is fascinating.
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The Assistant
The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (Paperback - 3 April 2014)
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