Dictation: A Quartet

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Dictation: A Quartet

by Cynthia Ozick

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | April 14, 2009 | Trade Paperback

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Four stories of comedy, deception, and revenge, including one previously unpublished, from the acclaimed author of Heir to the Glimmering World.

Cynthia Ozick's new work of fiction brings together four long stories that showcase this incomparable writer's sly humor and piercing insight into the human heart. Each starts in the comic mode, with heroes who suffer from willful self-deceit. These not-so-innocents proceed from self-deception to deceiving others, who do not take it lightly. Revenge is the consequence -- and for the reader, a delicious, if dark, recognition of emotional truth.

The glorious new novella "Dictation" imagines a fateful meeting between the secretaries to Henry James and Joseph Conrad at the peak of their fame. Timid Miss Hallowes, who types for Conrad, comes under the influence of James's Miss Bosanquet, high-spirited, flirtatious, and scheming. In a masterstroke of genius, Ozick hatches a plot between them to insert themselves into posterity.

Ozick is at her most devious, delightful best in these four works, illuminating the ease with which comedy can glide into calamity.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 160 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.5 in

Published: April 14, 2009

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547237871

ISBN - 13: 9780547237879

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

Dictation: A Quartet

Dictation: A Quartet

by Cynthia Ozick

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 160 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.5 in

Published: April 14, 2009

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0547237871

ISBN - 13: 9780547237879

Read from the Book

ACTORSMatt Sorley, born Mose Sadacca, was an actor. He was a character actor and (when they let him) a comedian. He had broad, swarthy, pliant cheeks, a reddish widow's peak that was both curly and balding, and very bright teeth as big and orderly as piano keys. His stage name had a vaguely Irish sound, but his origins were Sephardic. One grandfather was from Constantinople, the other from Alexandria. His parents could still manage a few words of the old Spanish spoken by the Jews who had fled the Inquisition, but Matt himself, brought up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, was purely a New Yorker. The Brooklyn that swarmed in his speech was useful. It got him parts.Sometimes he was recognized in the street a day or so following his appearance on a television lawyer series he was occasionally on call for. These were serious, mostly one-shot parts requiring mature looks. The pressure was high. Clowning was out, even in rehearsals. Matt usually played the judge (three minutes on camera) or else the father of the murder victim (seven minutes). The good central roles went to much younger men with rich black hair and smooth flat bellies. When they stood up to speak in court, they carefully buttoned up their jackets. Matt could no longer easily button his. He was close to sixty and secretly melancholy. He lived on the Upper West Side in a rent-controlled apartment with a chronic leak under the bathroom sink. He had a reputation for arguing with directors; one director was in the habit of add
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Table of Contents

Contents

Dictation 1 Actors 51 At Fumicaro 87 What Happened to the Baby? 135

From the Publisher

Four stories of comedy, deception, and revenge, including one previously unpublished, from the acclaimed author of Heir to the Glimmering World.

Cynthia Ozick's new work of fiction brings together four long stories that showcase this incomparable writer's sly humor and piercing insight into the human heart. Each starts in the comic mode, with heroes who suffer from willful self-deceit. These not-so-innocents proceed from self-deception to deceiving others, who do not take it lightly. Revenge is the consequence -- and for the reader, a delicious, if dark, recognition of emotional truth.

The glorious new novella "Dictation" imagines a fateful meeting between the secretaries to Henry James and Joseph Conrad at the peak of their fame. Timid Miss Hallowes, who types for Conrad, comes under the influence of James's Miss Bosanquet, high-spirited, flirtatious, and scheming. In a masterstroke of genius, Ozick hatches a plot between them to insert themselves into posterity.

Ozick is at her most devious, delightful best in these four works, illuminating the ease with which comedy can glide into calamity.

About the Author

Author of many acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, Cynthia Ozick is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and elsewhere.

Editorial Reviews

"Deceptions and obsessions drive this elegant collection of four stories...Playful, teasing, provocative fare from this most accomplished of ironists." Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"These novellas are prime examples of Ozick's rigorous writing style, her propensity for recognizing the element of ridiculousness in human tragedy, and her second-nature sympathy for eccentric characters." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"A carefully honed, sharply intelligent new collection of four stories shows Ozick at the height of her stylistic powers...Ozick's stories ingeniously put scholarship in the service of human flowerings." Publishers Weekly

"Ozick is at the top of her form in these splendid stories, and every library will want a copy. Highly recommended." Library Journal Starred