I have always found Bernard Malamud‘s novel The Assistant, which I’ve read twice, very impressive; and no less so are many of his short stories. The 66-year-old physician, Simon Morris, in “In Retirement” is thinking he ought not to have retired two years ago. He is an “old” widower who experiences moments of anguish. But when he learns that a young woman in his apartment building is inclined to sleep around, he is unsurprisingly induced to send her a polite note requesting a date. This is a mistake.

The story is about existential loneliness and discontent in the elderly years. “There’s no setting aside old age,” Morris says. “. . . Or death.” As usual, Malamud is matter-of-fact. He does a good job of presenting the Jewish sensibility but is even better at exploring sensibilities in general.

Reviews by Dean