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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Cynthia Ozick

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To purchase Levitation

Title: Levitation
Author: Cynthia Ozick
Genre: Stories
Written: to 1982
Length: 158 pages
Availability: Levitation - US
Levitation - UK
Levitation - Canada
Lévitation - France
    • Levitation
    • Puttermesser: Her Work History, Her Ancestry, Her Afterlife
    • Shots
    • From a Refugee's Notebook
    • Puttermesser and Xanthippe

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Our Assessment:

A- : strong and entertaining fictions

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times B+ 28/1/1982 John Leonard
The NY Times Book Rev. B 14/2/1982 Leslie Epstein

  From the Reviews:
  • "It is awesome to watch this great and generous talent [Ozick] turn with such intensity upon itself." - Leslie Epstein, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Two of the five fictions in Levitation also find their way into the "novel", The Puttermesser Papers. That redundancy is perhaps the greatest "weakness" of this fine collection.
       There's more precision and care in these stories than in some of her earlier collections, and there seems hardly a wasted or superfluous word. No longer the "stories" or "novellas" of her previous collections, Ozick attempts fictions here. Primarily always concerned with language -- and always aware of its inadequacy (specifically the inadequacy of English) -- Ozick pushes form to extremes.
        From a Refugee's Notebook is made up of two fragments, a meditation on the Freud's Room in Vienna and a description of the sewing harems on "the planet Acirema" (a simple play on words: read back to front). Presented as two fragments from this otherwise unidentified notebook, "found behind a mirror in a vacant room-for-rent" on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the fiction is one of Ozick's most oblique efforts.
       Shots is about a photographer, drawn to dead faces, the title story, Levitation, about two minor literary figures and a party they hold -- with Jewish questions again dominant. These two, the more conventional in the collection, are something of a bridge to the more adventurous other efforts.
       Ozick moves away from simple characterization in this collection, and some of the critics disapprove. We, however, prefer the more cerebral and fantastic approach of these fictions to her earlier, generally more realistic, stories.
       We recommend the collection highly, though Puttermesser should be read in her entirety, in the collection cum novel, The Puttermesser Papers.

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Reviews: Cynthia Ozick: Other books by Cynthia Ozick under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary American fiction

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About the Author:

       American author Cynthia Ozick is the author of numerous works of fiction, as well as several collections of essays. She has been awarded a number of prizes and honors, and she has received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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