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What I offer here can only be the most impoverished of overviews. The book must be read! Ruth Puttermesser is a woman, an attorney, living alone in New York City. Her title was Assistant Corporation Counsel. She develops periodontal disease and fears the surgical exposure of her bones.
Her presence creates uncomfortable contrasts for those who are less so. Perhaps inevitably she is demoted and hidden away in Taxation. There she writes snappy, indignant letters to her boss. Commissioner Alvin Turtleman, has forced a fine civil servant of honorable temperament, with experience both wide and impassioned, out of her job.
I am that civil servant. Without a hearing, without due process She does not receive a reply. A nice little overview of the golem in history follows. She is taken to work at the cumbrous municipal office building where she begins to type. She produces a Plan.
The murder rate plummets. Sobbing muggers walk into precinct houses, arms raised. Vast gardens thrive all over the city. But now Rappoport has returned.
Soon Rappoport is sexually exhausted, raw. He leaves the city with a limp. Xanthippe, however, having tasted human lust, runs amok as it is historically within the purview of golems to do.
Their marriages break up. They move to Florida.
And just as gradually the city morphs back into the crime-ridden dystopia that it was before our heroine took office.
Suffice it to say that Puttermesser does not seek reelection. She takes a year off. Puttermesser, her name means butterknife in German, is lonely without anything to occupy her time. Puttermesser understandably pines for her George Lewes.
His reenactments are reduced to postcard size and sold in stationers shops. It must be read. Then Puttermesser is visited by her Muscovite cousin. Lidia — a cynical, mercenary young woman — has seized on her New York connection in order to make money.
It is the era of Gorbachev and perestroika. Lidia comes to New York laden with all sorts of tchotchkes: Lenin as a boy pins, Russian nested dolls, etc. She finds a naive fellow she calls Pyotr, a man utterly without guile, whom she promptly seduces.
Puttermesser has installed Lidia on a sofa bed in her living room. Soon, Lidia, having made her pile so she can marry Volodya, exits. The novel has been rendered in the form of interconnected stories which were previously published independently.
Yet together they make an indissoluble whole. There is only one other such ear I have ever come across in my wide reading and that belongs to Martin Amis. Both writers have this innate zingy facility with language, both use vocabulary as punchlines, and both have unerring narrative instincts.
Both also, it might be said, though their respective subject matters differ greatly, put enormous loving care into their work.The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick () Vintage () pp. Just in case anyone was wondering whether my goal to read more Cynthia Ozick was still in tact, the answer is a resounding Yes!
The Puttermesser Papers is composed of two short stories and three novellas that appeared in periodicals over the previous fifteen years. All center on Ruth Puttermesser and are loosely organized. Cynthia Ozick is a remarkable writer and 'The Puttermesser Papers' is a remarkable book.
Clear, crisp prose reveals a plot line that will keep you reading into the night. Published on July 11, /5(29). Cynthia Ozick's new book traces the incredible life and afterlife of a New York woman By JACK MILES.
THE PUTTERMESSER PAPERS By Cynthia Ozick. pp.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $ ynthia Ozick has an amphibious talent. She is interested in ideas to the extent that they yield stories and stories to the extent that they yield ideas.
Complete summary of Cynthia Ozick's The Puttermesser Papers. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Puttermesser Papers. Cynthia Shoshana Ozick (born April 17, ) is an American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.