With dashing originality and in prose that sings like an entire choir of sirens, Cynthia Ozick relates the life and times of her most compelling fictional creation. Ruth Puttermesser lives in New York City. Her learning is monumental. Her love life is minimal (she prefers poring through Plato to romping with married Morris Rappoport). And her ...
With dashing originality and in prose that sings like an entire choir of sirens, Cynthia Ozick relates the life and times of her most compelling fictional creation. Ruth Puttermesser lives in New York City. Her learning is monumental. Her love life is minimal (she prefers poring through Plato to romping with married Morris Rappoport). And her fantasies have a disconcerting tendency to come true - with disastrous consequences for what we laughably call 'reality'. Puttermesser yearns for a daughter and promptly creates one, unassisted, in the form of the first recorded female golem. Labouring in the dusty crevices of the civil service, she dreams of reforming the city - and manages to get herself elected mayor. Puttermesser contemplates the afterlife and is hurtled into it headlong, only to discover that paradise found is paradise lost. Overflowing with ideas, lambent with wit, THE PUTTERMESSER PAPERS is a tour de force by one of America's most visionary novelists.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-04-21 In the world of Ozick's novels, nothing happens by chance. Ruth Puttermesser, 34 when this book begins, is aptly named, for puttermesser means butterknife, a word that indicates the contradictory sides of her nature. Puttermesser is a lawyer by training, yet ethical to her bones; an idealist and visionary, yet a cynic and pragmatist. She is a lover of classic literature and civility who can dismiss a stupid comment with the best New York sass; a rationalist seduced by her own imagination; a woman too wise to be surprised by the dark corners of human nature, who is nonetheless betrayed time and again by her own desires. In a droll, effortlessly erudite fable that mixes brilliant fantasy and the gritty details of urban life, Ozick follows her protagonist through decades of aspiration, achievement, failure, hope, deathŠand its aftermath. The story encompasses the themes of power and the lack therof, the high aspirations of art versus the realities of existence, the vanquishing of ethics by the persistent presence of greed and selfishness, the condition of Paradise, the essential puzzle of existenceŠall the while conveying mordant observations about contemporary culture. Unjustly fired from her civil service job, Puttermesser constructs a golem who helps her become mayor of New York on a reform ticket; falls from grace into limbo; is duped in love by a superb copyist who plays on Puttermesser's love of George Sand; is duped again by family loyalty when she attempts to help a Russian emigr?e; and endures the final irony at the point of a knife blade. Playfully employing the nuances of language to amuse, instruct and astonish the reader, Ozick has created a witty, intelligent and intensely imagined narrative that will stand among her best work. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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