Synopses & Reviews
Lore Segal's tour de force look at the New York literary scene was a hit when it was first released in the 1970s, winning the praise of the literary elite. John Gardner called it "magical". William Gass said it was "witty, elegant, beautiful". Stanley Elkin called it a "shamelessly wonderful novel, so flawless one feels civilized reading it".
It's been a cult classic ever since, and appears here in its full, original text, as fresh as ever: the story of the whimsical New York poet Lucinella and her adventures among the literati. It starts at Yaddo writers colony, where life is idyllic, meals are served to you in your rooms, and cocktails are ready at day's end ... and still the writers complain and compete. Then it moves back to New York City, where the pampered once again face reality, and wonder: Will a different husband ... or the right publisher ... or the perfect filing system ... put life in order?
Lucinella and her circle feel lacking and keep looking, busily going to parties and watching one another 's lives closely for signs of happiness, love and despair.
Segal depicts it all with a perfect blend of love and malice. And at the center is Lucinella herself, so full of humanity and frailty that these divertissements do her to death. Here, as Cynthia Ozick says, is the "enchanted microcosm, the laughter of mortality".
"Dizzy, shameless fun... scathing yet sweet....The construction is clever, the style delicious." Los Angeles Times
"Timeless...a surprisingly moving work of defiant idealism and disgust at human folly." Financial Times
"Charming and imaginative, this period piece is timeless in evoking the anxiety of aspiration compounded by the anxiety of changing times." The Boston Globe
is about the hollow, the void that artists cover with creation and praise. The celebrity worship and gossip of this lofty circle of poets could exist among any group of rivals and friends. Yet, poets in community perhaps disregard that their interests are not the interests of the majority; they work in the felt, the unreal sound, the small and still. These poets need each other because they can't depend on the reading public to enjoy their poetry." Kati Nolfi, Bookslut
(read the entire Bookslut review
About the Author
Lore Segal is the author of the Pulitzer nominated Shakespeare's Kitchen, as well as the recently re-issued novels Other People's Houses and Her First American. She is the recipient of the American Academy and the Institutes of Arts and Letters Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. She contributes to The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, The New Republic and other publications. She lives in New York City.