Picks and Pans Review: Levitation

updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Cynthia Ozick

Some of the best writers today are Jewish, and their books are strongly colored by their experience. They include Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Mark Helprin. Right up there among the stars is Cynthia Ozick. In Levitation, a collection of short fiction, she reveals a New York that is marvelously funny, personal, dark and—well, Jewish. In the title story, a couple who write novels and live on New York's Upper West Side decide to have a party. They invite Roth, Irving Howe, Susan Son-tag, Alfred Kazin, Leslie Fiedler, Norman Podhoretz, Elizabeth Hardwick, Joyce Carol Oates, Norman Mailer, William Styron, Donald Barthelme, Jerzy Kosinski and Truman Capote. None of the guests come because the couple is mediocre and intellectually undistinguished. But no matter. Ozick is able to paint an extraordinary picture. In two other stories, the heroine is a female lawyer who moves into city government and, although she is demoted, imagines that she becomes mayor. All five Ozick stories are highly original, fascinating gems. (Knopf, $11.95)

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