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Lucinella

Lore Segal’s brilliant and some-would-say scathing look at the New York literary scene was a hit when it was first released, and has been a cult classic ever since. Now, it’s back, and as fresh as ever: A witty and whimsical novella about New York poet Lucinella and her adventures among the literati. It starts at a Yaddolike writers’ colony, where life is idyllic, meals are served to you in your rooms, and cocktails are ready at day’s end. Then it moves back home to New York City, where these pampered writers all face the serious, real life questions: Will a different husband, or the right publisher, or the perfect filing system, put life in order? Lucinella, her husband, lovers and friends 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 their circle 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.”

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.

”Lucinella is very funny. . . . It’s full of pithy descriptions . . . well-orchestrated group scenes, and modest, sometimes faintly dated experimentation. It builds to a conclusion that I found quite moving.” —John Williams, The Second Pass

“Dizzy, shameless fun… scathing yet sweet…. The construction is clever, the style delicious.”Los Angeles 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

“Timeless … a surprisingly moving work of defiant idealism and disgust at human folly.” —Financial Times

“Lucinella ranks among her best. This fantastically flawed heroine is compulsive and deeply fearful of obsolescence, but her refined comic energy makes even her more-arcane interests the stuff of great storytelling. As Lucinella says, ’Intelligence turns me on.’ Without a doubt, Segal feels the same way.” —Time Out New York

“In turn, we are in love with Lucinella.” —The Village Voice

PRAISE FOR THE ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF LUCINELLA

“And now, at last, Lucinella–a funny, nervous, affecting novel about a poet trying and failing to bring some order to her life and craft.  The triumph of the novel is Lucinella herself, whom we come to trust and care for and worry about and despair of.  Lucinella is surely the nicest person ever to appear in a novel about New York writers.” —John Leonard, The New York Times Book Review

“[An] unusual, original, poetic, simple, complicated, baffling, probing, erudite, allusive, illusive, down-to-earth, up-to-heaven novel. It might suffice to call it a novel novel.  One can be sure that Lore Segal is no ordinary writer. She can give imagination, unexpectedness, and beauty to the ordinary, whether it be the look of a ’scrumpled’ towel on a rack or confronting a Fuller Brush salesman.  She can the make the earthly divine and the divine earthly.” —Richard Armour, Los Angeles Times

“I can think of no novel in recent years so delicately balanced, so delicately written, executed with such elegance.  It is altogether satisfying. Segal’s distinctive style, a voice entirely her own…is as orginal a tone as, say, Grace Paley’s when she tells her stories.  It is Lucinella’s elegant humorous tongue that gives a fine, tasty point to this light-hearted novel about serious matters like art and love.” —Doris Grumbach, The Washington Post

“An entrancingly witty anatomy of our (East Coast) literary life, but more than that it is a tough little book that knows very well that charm is not enough.  A Pilgrim’s Progress of sorts, it would be wrong to underestimate the ambitiousness of its myth just because of its unpretentiousness.” The Nation

“Lore Segal dissects the New York literary environment with the skill of a master surgeon and sticks it under the microscope, bit by bit, for us  to examine.  Ms. Segal has written a full and witty book, spiced with fantasy but firmly rooted in the planet.” Chicago Sun-Times

“Marvelously inventive in its creation of metaphor for the world of literary friendships.  There is in the style of Lucinella the simplicity, clarity and crispness of expression one finds in the best writing for children, the ease with magic and imagery found in the best fairy tales.  This novel of modern literary life is short but not slight.  It has epic qualities.” —Helen Weinberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Playful and dry as New Yorker cartoons.”—Leslie Ullman, Kansas City Star

“This odd, wonderful, nervous-breakdown-in-the-form-of-a-novel is going to find an audience that will read it, re-read it, and love every perfect word of it.” —Richard Lipez, Newsday

“Quite messily charming… Lore Segal’s novel is lighter than air on a clear day or the next flyaway fancy as she flirts with myth and metaphor and excitement and disintegration.” Kirkus Reviews

“Lore Segal has taken our literary life apart so sweetly that no one will want to put it together again. Lucinella is a witty, elegant, beautiful book.” —William Gass

Lucinella is a shamelessly wonderful novel, so flawless one feels civilized reading it.” —Stanley Elkin

Lucinella is a perfectly simple, wonderful, magical book.  It’s as light and innocent as a fantasy, yet all the materials of the fantasy are as convincing as life… It’s the best book I know about how poets and novelists really are, as husbands or wives, as lovers, as cocktail-party friends.” —John Gardner

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