What's for Dinner?

By James Schuyler; James Mccourt (Afterword by)
(NYRB Classics, Paperback, 9781590171677, 208pp.)

Publication Date: December 22, 2005

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

James Schuyler's utterly original What's for Dinner? features a cast of characters who appear to have escaped from a Norman Rockwell painting to run amok. In tones that are variously droll, deadpan, and lyrical, Schuyler tells a story that revolves around three small-town American households. The Delehanteys are an old-fashioned Catholic family whose twin teenage boys are getting completely out of hand, no matter that their father is hardly one to spare the rod. Childless Norris and Lottie Taylor have been happily married for years, even as Lottie has been slowly drinking herself to death. Mag, a recent widow, is on the prowl for love. Retreating to an institution to dry out, Lottie finds herself caught up in a curious comedy of group therapy manners. At the same time, however, she begins an ascent from the depths of despair—illuminated with the odd grace and humor that readers of Schuyler's masterful poetry know so well—to a new understanding, that will turn her into an improbable redeemer within an unlikely world.

What's for Dinner? is among the most delightful and unusual works of American literature. Charming and dark, off-kilter but pedestrian, mercurial yet matter-of-fact, Schuyler's novel is an alluring invention that captures both the fragility and the tenacity of ordinary life.




About the Author

James Schuyler (1923–1991) was a preeminent figure in the celebrated New York School of poets. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and near Buffalo, New York. After World War II, he made his way to Italy, where he served for a time asW.H. Auden’s secretary. His books include three novels, A Nest of Ninnies (written with John Ashbery), Alfred and Guinevere, and What’s For Dinner, as well as numerous volumes of poetry.

James McCourt was born in New York City and attended Manhattan College, NYU, the Yale School of Drama, and the Old Met. Among his works of fiction and nonfiction areMawrdew CzgowchwzWayfaring at Waverly in Silver Lake, andQueer Street: The Rise and Fall of an American Culture, 1947-1985. He lives in New York City.




Praise For What's for Dinner?

"James Schuyler’s sublimely sad and funny novel, What’s for Dinner? looks back at Cranford and Madame Bovary and forward to present—day dysfunctional households like those of”Desperate Housewives.” It’s wonderful to have it back in print." — John Ashbery

"A quietly scarifying, very funny, and wonderfully compassionate novel." — Stephen Spender

"What’s for Dinner? is a comedy of manners all about alcoholism, insanity, adultery, drugs, moderate incest, and death. [It is] a great gift to the reader." —Alice Notley

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