Nathan Zuckerman, an established Jewish novelist. He recalls a visit, twenty years earlier, to the home of a famous older writer. At the age of twenty-three, Zuckerman was serious about his work and longed for the kind of reclusive life devoted to his craft that his mentor E. I. Lonoff was leading in the Berkshires. As is characteristic of people in his chosen profession, Zuckerman lives more in a life of fantasy than in reality. He quarreled with his own father, who objected to a story by Zuckerman that was not flattering to Jews, and he goes to visit Lonoff to find sanction from a literary father. The most significant fantasy in which Zuckerman engages while at Lonoff’s home occurs when he meets a mysterious young woman, Amy Bellette, whom he fantasizes is Anne Frank, the girl who became famous posthumously as a result of her diary about her experiences while in hiding, with her family, from the Nazis during World War II.
E. I. Lonoff
E. I. Lonoff, who is described by Zuckerman as the most famous literary ascetic in America. Lonoff has little time for anyone or anything but his writing. At the age of fifty-six, he has the devotion to his craft of Henry James, the mysterious seclusion of J. D. Salinger, and the perceptive awareness of Jewish experience of Bernard Malamud or Isaac Bashevis Singer. Nothing ever happens to him, he says; his life consists of “turning sentences around,” and he...
(The entire section is 584 words.)