THE NEW YORKERS by Hortense Calisher

THE NEW YORKERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Opaque, inbred, mannered, tapered, porcelainized-these are qualities of Miss Calisher hitherto applied to short stories, novellas or novels. All retained here in this her longest book, some six hundred pages, in which she may well have outdistanced her narcoleptic readers. "Life is movement" as one of the characters unoriginally claims and as the novel contradicts. The recitative deals with the household of one Simon Mannix, a third to fourth generation assimilated reform Jew, and demonstrates that "children always live downstairs in the houses of their parents." Downstairs, or submerged subliminally, is the opening episode of the book when the Judge's periodically unfaithful wife is shot accidentally by their daughter, Ruth. The Judge is determined to bring her up free of the stigma-trauma and the so-called suicide coincides with the girl's first menstrual period so that much is symbolically made of these bloodstains. The insets, in which the life story proceeds, go backward and forward at about ten year intervals introducing other characters; a faithful servant Anna; a young man who becomes the Judge's amanuensis; the Judge's son who is deaf (and protected thereby); friends of David's and Ruth's and of the Judge who represents an ancien regime of old New Yorkers. . . . These are people who "transacted life in beautiful visits"-namely remote, and while one is impressed with the properties of Miss Calisher's style which is freighted with elegant ellipses and inferences, one eventually submits to the book's flawlessly sustained tedium.
Pub Date: April 14th, 1969
ISBN: 1555841953
Page count: 559pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1969




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