Category: Quick


Quick: Adaptation

Linda Seger says that one of the most important parts to adapting a book is finding the conflict. And Malamud does that very quickly.

The story immediately goes into the struggles of Morris Bober and his family. You read about Morris’ day-to-day struggle with simply running his store. But, the conflict gets even worse, before it gets a little better. In the second chapter, Morris is robbed and hit in the head. He can no longer work. The story jumps right into the conflict. The conflict in the story mostly centers around Frank and the Bober’s struggle to get through life. I focused on this struggle for my blox. They are all trying to balance together and figure it out.

The Assistant follows the journey of Frank Alpine from robber to Jew. Frank is not perfect, and along the way you watch him make mistake after mistake, until he is finally able to mature and devote himself to Judaism. Seger recommends that when your story follows someone on a journey, you should find the middle of the story first. She wants you to answer the questions ‘What happens to my character?’ and ‘How is my character changed?’ That is very simply done in The Assistant. Frank Alpine is changed into a Jew at the end of the story. His character wants to be an honest person with morals. The story follows his struggle to leave the past behind. The Bober family comes along for the journey, and is forever changed, not always for the better, due to Frank Alpine being in their life. Seger says that journey stories can be the hardest to adapt. For this blox, I focused on the fact that we are on a trans-formative journey. Frank Alpine, as represented by a bird because of his love of St. Francis, is flying along with the Bobers. Together they are trying to stay on the path together and get through life.

Quick: Blox

Quick: Cornell

When I visualize Malamud’s quickness I envision a bicycle on a paved bike path. There is a sign that says “Stay on Designated Path”. The bicycle is a multi-rider bicycle and on the bike is the Bober family. The path, while clearly moving in one direction, is full of zig zags. The pavement is perfectly smooth. This represents Malamud’s ability to easily tell an enjoyable story with lots of curves and surprises. The son’s head is missing. This is too depict Morris’ loss of his son, Ephraim. The loss of a family member makes it even harder to keep the family bicycle going. A bird is flying next to the family. This bird represents Frank.

As an avid bike rider, I can tell you it is much, much more enjoyable to ride a bike along a paved path then a rocky, unpaved road. The latter is bumpy and painful. However, like a good read, a paved path is an enjoyable ride and goes quickly.

The sign “Do Not Get off Path” depicts Malamud’s dedication to the classical story. He did not veer 0ff path and tell an experimental story. Instead, he stayed true to the human experience.

Also, I grew up with a tandem bike. Our tandem bike was very old and difficult to ride. You had to sync your peddling and body tilt with that off the other rider to successfully ride the bike down the road. This reminds me of my own family and the Bober Family. The Bobers are struggling to get through life together. They have all had to give up something for each other in order to survive. Helen had to stop going to classes, and get a job. As in any family, my sister and I have had to learn to live together and balance each other out. My parents have obviously had to make compromises and learn to live together for the past thirty years. Every family is on a tandem bike, just trying to move forward. 

According to Blair, Cornell’s art was a “dialogue with himself”. I asked a lot of questions to myself when I was trying to create a visual image of quick in The Assistant. What was it about Malamud’s writing style that I liked so much? And why do I like it compared to other styles? I discovered that I liked Malamud’s style because it is not pretentious. It does not try to sound smart or use big words. Instead, it focuses on the story of the people it is talking about. I am definitely not a person who needs to think deep thoughts to feel like I am being smart. I instead like things that affect me emotionally. Malamud’s Bober Family definitely does this. As as well as the transformation of Frank Alpine.

Quick: Experience

As I mentioned in the post on my experience with exactness, Wikipedia said that Malamud did not write profoundly. While this might seem like an insult, this is actually what I like most about Malamud’s writing. He excels at writing a great story.

On the first part of the blog I wrote that I preferred linear stories that are read for pleasure, just like a good bike ride. The Assistant does this perfectly. The story is incredibly enjoyable to read as you connect with realistic characters and an interesting, yet realistic plot. The story is frequently in motion, yet moves ahead rationally, without unbelievable coincidences or unrealistic events.

Calvino’s emblem for quickness was a horse. He chose a horse because it gets a person to their destination, or the end of the story, quickly. Malamud’s story is not necessarily quick. It an average length novel, at just under 300 pages. However, the story never lingers or stalls, which I believe is what Calvino was talking about. Malamud successfully tells a story that is constantly moving forward and unveiling new details and events. Malamud’s stories are also told with use of lots of dialogue. Almost every page is loaded with conversations between two characters.