Antiquities

Cynthia Ozick. Knopf, $20 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-31882-9
Ozick (Foreign Bodies) delivers a beguiling novel of a man living in the past. In 1949, Lloyd Wilkinson Petrie, a retired lawyer estranged from his friends and his only son, has returned to live at the Temple Academy, the boarding school he attended as a child, which has been converted into a makeshift retirement home for its trustees. There, with his beloved Remington typewriter, he labors over his memoirs. His account revolves around two axes: his childhood fascination with the archaeological adventures in Egypt of his distant cousin Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, which Lloyd’s father impulsively joined, and a school-age infatuation with a mysterious classmate, Ben-Zion Elefantin, who claimed to be from Egypt. Ozick is adept at capturing the vicissitudes of fading memory or flashes of lucid insight, and she unspools the story at a brisk pace. While Petrie’s lively venom and wit are sometimes overdone by Ozick’s overwrought efforts to develop his private-school mannerisms (Ben-Zion Elefantin has a “farcical pachyderm name”; Temple retains “Oxonian genuflections”), the novel becomes a fascinating portrait of isolation, memory, and loss as Petrie’s health and the state of Temple become more perilous. While it doesn’t reach the heights of her greatest work, this is impressive nonetheless. Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2020
Release date: 04/13/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-593-31883-6
Show other formats
FORMATS
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X