A very satisfying fiction is Bernard Malamud‘s story, “Idiots First,” a fast-moving, tough-minded achievement. Nobody does desperation better than Malamud as he describes the doings of a dying elderly man trying to acquire enough money to send his mentally impaired son to the son’s uncle.

The story is dark but not at all despairing. A ray of light is tossed in when a lurking grim reaper (he is supernatural and hangs around the elderly man) proves he is something more than a creature of “awful wrath.” It brings some mild relief; “Idiots First” brings fascination.