this review says it better than i can. this has been one of my favorite books
From Library Journal
Malamud, who died in 1986, is perhaps better known for his novels (e.g., The Natural; The Fixer) than for his short stories, though these he published abundantly in collections over the years (e.g., The Stories of Bernard Malamud, 1983). Giroux, Malamud's longtime editor, publisher, and friend, who put together this evident labor of love, quotes Flannery O'Connor on Malamud: "I have discovered a short-story writer who is better than any of them, including myself." Many of these stories treat the dead-end lot of working-class Jews ("The Cost of Living") or the thwarted aspirations of the artist Fidelman in Italy ("A Pimp's Revenge"). Appearing in the order in which they were written (rather than published), the 55 stories span his first, "The Armistice" (1940), until his last experimental biography of Virginia Woolf. Displayed thus, Malamud's skill is consistently sound, effected quietly through disciplined pacing and dignified characters. Essential for libraries that lack Malamud's previous story collections.?Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"