Ozick was born in 1928, when the milk in her native Bronx was still delivered by horse and cart. Her father owned a drugstore, which “seemed one of the world’s permanent institutions. Who could have imagined that it would one day vanish into an aisle in the supermarket. . .?” The twenty-first century is largely absent from Letters of Intent. In the time of Henry James, “Literature mattered acutely, centrally, and was prized as a fundament of civilization”, she writes. “Even forty years ago we lived in the residue of that notion . . . .
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