The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud
The Magic Barrel is a collection of thirteen short stories written by Bernard Malamud and published in 1958. It won the 1959 National Book Award for fiction. The stories included are The First Seven Years, The Mourners, The Girl of My Dreams, Angel Levine, Behold the Key, Take Pity, The Prison, The Lady of the Lake, A Summer's Reading, The Bill, The Last Mohican, The Loan, and The Magic Barrel. The magic barrel figures in the last of these stories as a marriage counselor tells Leo Finkle (who is studying to become a rabbi) that there are too many female applications and he had to fill a barrel with the outcasts that didn't fit in his drawer. The barrel becomes magical, because Finkle is told by his marriage counselor that the photograph he fell in love with wasn't good enough for a rabbinical student and instead was from his discard barrel.