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Levitation: Five Fictions

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A collection of five stories which play upon the theme of deception and the inability to see.


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A collection of five stories which play upon the theme of deception and the inability to see.

30 review for Levitation: Five Fictions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Seltzer

    A mixed bag. When she is good, she is very very good. I liked best her tale of Puttermesser, an underappreciated well-meaning bureaucrat who becomes mayor of New York with a little help from a golem.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Downward

    cynthia ozick is straight up one of my fav writers; she captures the jewish american experience w/ depth and humor, never shying away or (alternately) being exploitative of the pathos of survivors and refugees. so take these three stars with a grain of salt, because of these 5 fictions; 3.5 are forgettable, mired in obscurity through overwritten academic language that lets you drift away from whatever core emotion ozick is trying to get across. but 1.5 are knock-you-on-your-ass brilliant. the re cynthia ozick is straight up one of my fav writers; she captures the jewish american experience w/ depth and humor, never shying away or (alternately) being exploitative of the pathos of survivors and refugees. so take these three stars with a grain of salt, because of these 5 fictions; 3.5 are forgettable, mired in obscurity through overwritten academic language that lets you drift away from whatever core emotion ozick is trying to get across. but 1.5 are knock-you-on-your-ass brilliant. the real star here is 'puttermesser and xanthippe' - a story aout a woman who breathes life into a golem just as her world is falling apart, and the golem, as a function of her most pure self, helps her get elected to mayor of new york city, which she turns into a paradise; a modern eden. the golem becomes reckless and sexually curious however, and begins destroying this eden until eventually puttermesser has to return the golem to darkness. its a pretty deft allegory for 'writing' (writing about writing had been addressed in a previous story as being forbidden): puttermesser (author) creates xanthippe (novel); xanthippe then gives birth to the new versionof puttermesser, as the mayor of new york, before eventually destroying her. about how our creations define us and then change us, they grow past our control and beyond our reach and become our worst enemies while we remain emotionally attached, willing to let it kill us before we're willing to let it go. craaaazzy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is another book I wish I had read in college. Ozick is so dang smart, and packs so much into her stories, I feel like I'm missing a lot by not studying them with a professor or at least in a group. Except for Grace Paley, I've never read any consciously Jewish American fiction by a woman (Bellow, Malamud, sure...). It was refreshing. I'll definitely seek out more Ozick in the future. This is another book I wish I had read in college. Ozick is so dang smart, and packs so much into her stories, I feel like I'm missing a lot by not studying them with a professor or at least in a group. Except for Grace Paley, I've never read any consciously Jewish American fiction by a woman (Bellow, Malamud, sure...). It was refreshing. I'll definitely seek out more Ozick in the future.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Perrone

    Four short stories and essentially a novella, Levitation is my first foray into Ozick and her intellectual and mystical fictions. Levitation feels like a book of its time (late 70's/early 80's) with its literary dinner parties; its explorations of photography and feminism, Jewish mysticism, and psychology; and, of course, its inner and outer perceptions of NYC. It seems that the common opinion is that Levitation contains a mixed back—to which I somewhat agree. The opening and titular "Levitation" Four short stories and essentially a novella, Levitation is my first foray into Ozick and her intellectual and mystical fictions. Levitation feels like a book of its time (late 70's/early 80's) with its literary dinner parties; its explorations of photography and feminism, Jewish mysticism, and psychology; and, of course, its inner and outer perceptions of NYC. It seems that the common opinion is that Levitation contains a mixed back—to which I somewhat agree. The opening and titular "Levitation" starts strong but seems to get lost in its own dream state by the end (or it least loses me). But the idea of the goyish Lucy watching the levitating Jewish party guests is fun and the theological vignettes are brilliant. "Puttermesser: Her Work History, Her Ancestry, Her Afterlife" feels like an unnecessary prologue after reading the final story. "Shots," contains a very funny idea about an affair that is wrapped up in some very heavy symbols and "From A Refugee's Notebook," tells, in two parts a series of odd juxtapositions—Freud's house and the Sewing Haram—which feel like positively surreal, and perhaps accurate projections of our pasts and future. The final and novella length story, "Puttermesser and Xanthippe" feels like the most substantial story in the collection, not only for its length but because of its laser focus on the odd and familiar. Probably, a good example (for once) of something being Kafka-esque, Puttermesser is demoted and fired from her job in civil service only to summon a Golem (in the form of a young woman) who acts as her child, maid, and collaborator forcing massive change on Puttermesser and, in fact, the entire city of New York. I think it goes without saying that Ozick is obviously brilliant—like other writers of her generation, her prose seems so impeccably solid and thoughtful and at the same time appears to have been written without much effort. Her stories are rich in detail, contradiction, and humor. Looking forward to reading more of her work.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    cynthia ozick! she does it again, she does her thing again. oh i love her weird tactile-cum stratospherically intellectual writing so much, i love writing where you can tell how much the writer is trying, how it makes the writing feel like a physical bodily experience, you can tell because sometimes she fails, sometimes in strange ways, sometimes in spectacular ways, sometimes in boring ways. how it makes you read her beautiful lumpy sentences slowly and with savor. no one else i read nowadays m cynthia ozick! she does it again, she does her thing again. oh i love her weird tactile-cum stratospherically intellectual writing so much, i love writing where you can tell how much the writer is trying, how it makes the writing feel like a physical bodily experience, you can tell because sometimes she fails, sometimes in strange ways, sometimes in spectacular ways, sometimes in boring ways. how it makes you read her beautiful lumpy sentences slowly and with savor. no one else i read nowadays makes me remember how much when i was younger i valued & loved language as ozick. the way she makes this love of abstraction so earthy—exemplified of course nowhere better than in the story of puttermesser and the golem—is the most necessary combination & (feels, when she does it) the most miraculous.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sannidhi Shukla

    idk maybe something is wrong with me because i just straight up didnt like this book. even the stories i liked i still felt sooooo tired of at the same time. i did not finish the book because i thought the first story about puttermesser was sooooo annoying and like. idk just boring tbh... so the fact that the last story was also about her was just like omg. not HER again... 🙄 i dont know it still gets 3 stars because i liked the stories other than those ones but they just ruined the whole book f idk maybe something is wrong with me because i just straight up didnt like this book. even the stories i liked i still felt sooooo tired of at the same time. i did not finish the book because i thought the first story about puttermesser was sooooo annoying and like. idk just boring tbh... so the fact that the last story was also about her was just like omg. not HER again... 🙄 i dont know it still gets 3 stars because i liked the stories other than those ones but they just ruined the whole book for me so hard tbh

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert Gebhardt

    I wanted to like this, since it reminded me of 1970's New York (the time and place I was born). I must admit, however, I really didn't enjoy it until the last story, which was excellent (and it's a bit of a continuation of the second story, although I don't think the second was necessarily needed). I wanted to like this, since it reminded me of 1970's New York (the time and place I was born). I must admit, however, I really didn't enjoy it until the last story, which was excellent (and it's a bit of a continuation of the second story, although I don't think the second was necessarily needed).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emmett

    Levitation and Shots are absolutely great stories. The Puttermesser stories are an interesting response to a certain kind of 60s/70s novel, but I don't think they're nearly as good (though I get why people like them, especially if they're into a certain kind of 60s novel). Levitation and Shots are absolutely great stories. The Puttermesser stories are an interesting response to a certain kind of 60s/70s novel, but I don't think they're nearly as good (though I get why people like them, especially if they're into a certain kind of 60s novel).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalie D.C.

    3.75 stars. I adore Ozick's writing style. Favorites of this collection: Levitation, From a Refugee's Notebook (the second part), and Puttermesser and Xanthippe. 3.75 stars. I adore Ozick's writing style. Favorites of this collection: Levitation, From a Refugee's Notebook (the second part), and Puttermesser and Xanthippe.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    "Las tres estancias de la fiesta resplandecían como un tríptico: era como si fuera posible doblar ambas hojas sobre el centro y dejar a todos a oscuras." "Las tres estancias de la fiesta resplandecían como un tríptico: era como si fuera posible doblar ambas hojas sobre el centro y dejar a todos a oscuras."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Masha Shollar

    Breathtaking and perspective shifting, as always.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

    For my money, Cynthia Ozick is the greatest American writer of the last 50 years whose name isn't Toni Morrison, but somewhat frustratingly none of her story collections are perfect--they all contain an example or two of her awesome originality and brilliance, and then a few duds. Fortunately this is rendered more or less irrelevant by the fact that they are all individually out of print in the US, but I've seen the UK-published "The Collected Stories of Cynthia Ozick" at multiple half-priced bo For my money, Cynthia Ozick is the greatest American writer of the last 50 years whose name isn't Toni Morrison, but somewhat frustratingly none of her story collections are perfect--they all contain an example or two of her awesome originality and brilliance, and then a few duds. Fortunately this is rendered more or less irrelevant by the fact that they are all individually out of print in the US, but I've seen the UK-published "The Collected Stories of Cynthia Ozick" at multiple half-priced books. This, along with "The Puttermesser Papers", contains every short story or novella Ozick has published (except "Dictation," which I haven't read), so five stars for both of those, and go buy them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Saxon

    Ozick's stories all seem to start off on a relatively normal path before veering off into the absurd, surreal and very strange. It's hard to tell what the hell she is doing sometimes but its nevertheless entertaining and her stellar prose keeps you reading. Ozick's stories all seem to start off on a relatively normal path before veering off into the absurd, surreal and very strange. It's hard to tell what the hell she is doing sometimes but its nevertheless entertaining and her stellar prose keeps you reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    The accent in these five stories is on fable, tradition and identity. Good, but not her best.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Subarashi

    contains one of my favorite descriptions of heaven: a shady tree, bottomless box of fudge, all the books you could ever want to read, endless time

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caty

    I read this book so long ago it deserves a reread, but I remember even as a teenager being awed by how masterful the writing was.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Perfect. Not one word is wasted.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Just phenomenal.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  21. 4 out of 5

    Egon Lass

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul Vittay

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Farrell

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

  25. 4 out of 5

    Neusovita

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brujita

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andre Jones Jr

  28. 5 out of 5

    SeanT_C2

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yonina

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mazel

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