The thirteen interrelated stories of Shakespeare’s Kitchen concern the universal longing for friendship, how we achieve new intimacies for ourselves, and how slowly, inexplicably, we lose them. Featuring six never-before-published pieces, Lore Segal’s stunning book evolved from seven short stories that originally appeared in the New Yorker (including the O. Henry Prizewinning "The Reverse Bug").
Ilka Weisz has accepted a teaching position at the Concordance Institute, a think tank in Connecticut, reluctantly leaving her New York circle of friends. After the comedy of her struggle to meet new people, Ilka comes to embrace, and be embraced by, a new set of acquaintances, including the institute’s director, Leslie Shakespeare, and his wife, Eliza. Through a series of memorable dinner parties, picnics, and Sunday brunches, Segal evokes the subtle drama and humor of the outsider’s loneliness, the comfort and charm of familiar companionship, the bliss of being in love, and the strangeness of our behavior in the face of other people’s deaths.
A magnificent and deeply moving work, Shakespeare’s Kitchen marks the long-awaited return of a writer at the height of her powers.
What began as seven interrelated short stories published in the New Yorker (including the O. Henry Prize winning The Reverse Bug ) is now a full-length collection of 13, the first major work of fiction in 20 years from the acclaimed author of Her First American. Filled with all the pomp and depressed glory of a modern-day Great Gatsby, each installment delivers an entertaining glimpse into the dysfunctional lives of a group of hoity-toity Connecticut think tank intellectuals as they philosophize over wine and cheese, fall in and out of love, and go about their daily lives with reckless abandon. Most of the action takes place (or is retold, properly discussed and drunkenly digested) in the kitchen of the institute's director, Leslie Shakespeare, while Leslie's wife alternatively entertains and lambastes their friends. Although the plot centers on nothing more than everyday comings and goings, Segal gives readers a peek into the sausage factory of daily routine, in which humdrum but necessary minutiae belie the intrigue and angst stirred up in her self-absorbed characters' internal monologues. When stacked together, these vignettes are hilarious and telling. Segal exhibits a rare insight into the human character that is at once humbling and shamelessly enjoyable to behold.