Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Puttermesser for Mayor! (Books - The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick)

I have to be at the lab at 8 am today, so I don't have time for any lengthy thoughts, but in the section of Cynthia Ozick's The Puttermesser Papers entitled Puttermesser and Xanthippe, Ruth Puttermesser, disgraced city employee of The Department of Receipts and Disbursements, creates a golem out of the soil of her potted plants who gets her elected mayor. And this, naturally, puts her into a great tizzy about appointing commissioners. No, really. You will have to trust me that, as you get caught up in the rhapsody of Ozick's prose, this will all make perfect sense.
The new Mayor intends to recruit noble psyches and visionary hearts. She is searching for the antithesis of Turtelman and Marmel. For instance: she yearns after Wallace Stevens - insurance executive of probity during office hours, enrapture poet at dusk. How she would like to put Walt Whitman himself in charge of the Bureau of Summary Sessions, and have Shelley take over the Water Resource Development - Shelley whose principle it is that poets are the legislators of mankind! William Blake in the Fire Department. George Eliot doing Social Services. Emily Bronte over at Police, Jane Austen in Bridges and Tunnels, Virginia Woolf and Edgar Allan Poe sharing Health. Herman Melville overseeing the Office of Single Room Occupancy Housing...
What a riff. I think that one of the most deliciously fantastical sequences I have read in a long time. If you would care to dream along with Mayor Ruth Puttermesser, which writer - no, I'll open it up, which artist, writer, composer.... - would you appoint and to what position? My other post about the wonderful The Puttermesser Papers is here.

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