Alix Kates Shulman
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Heather and Mack McKay seem to have it all: wealth, a dream house in the suburbs, and two adorable children along with the nannies to raise them. But their marriage has lost its savor: she is a frustrated writer and he longs for a cultural trophy to hang on his belt.
During a chance encounter in LA, Mack invites exiled writer Zoltan Barbu—once lionized as a political hero, now becoming a has-been—to live with him and his wife in their luxurious home. The plan should provide Heather with literary companionship, Mack with cultural cachet, and Zoltan himself with a pastoral environment in which to overcome his writer’s block and produce a masterpiece.
Of course, as happens with triangles, complications arise—some hilarious, some sad—as the three players pursue a game that leads to shifting alliances and sexual misadventures. Shulman pokes fun at our modern malaise (why is having it all never enough?), even as she traces the ever-changing dynamics within a marriage. Ménage is a bravura performance from one of America’s most renowned feminist writers.
important created around him an aura of martyrdom rather than failure. This initial advantage, combined with an ability to raise a dense wiry eyebrow high over burning, “strong-gazing” eyes capable of performing, like the legendary Picasso’s, feats of charisma, all set in a face of hawklike features, suspended between a trim little beard below and black curls with boyish cowlick above, rendered Zoltan attractive to certain persons, particularly those with artistic aspirations. On the other hand,
I’d rather ask you.” Zoltan lowered his voice to a croon and tossed it back to her. “Tell me what you desire of me, Mrs. McKay.” “Too soon to tell.” “Then say what you hope.” Her eyes shone with excitement as she returned the intense gaze the writer had locked on her. She could not remember the last time she had received such penetrating attention, or when she had felt such giddy exhilaration. She tried to think of something to say; nothing came. Then, feeling her throat begin to tighten, she
door, and stepped outside. Perfume licked at his nostrils, birdsong tickled his ears, a chill breeze raised the hair on his neck. He turned his face upward toward the sun, breathing deeply, and with his eyes closed spread his arms upward like an ancient worshipper. The voluminous sleeves of his kimono fell to his shoulders, allowing the solar energy to penetrate him through his naked arms. Fate had sprung him from prison, transported him to Paris, induced Washington to grant him asylum, and was
like native huts, stretching to the east and west, down to the rivers. Sunlight danced on metal, gleamed off glass. “It always amazes me how almost delicate the tops of the old skyscrapers are. Look at that one over there,” said Mack, pointing to the graceful, silver tower of the Chrysler Building a little to the south of them, seemingly at eye level with their window. “What an achievement! It’s not only the shape that gets me, but all that decorative detail—put right up here in the middle of the
more”—she looked at him defiantly and slowly exhaled smoke—“what you haven’t done.” “Are you actually suggesting that if I, if we—” He closed his lips, his eyes. The gall of the woman! Sitting there calmly smoking and petting her cat, she seemed to him truly monstrous. First for what she did to her husband, now for what she was doing to him. An evil monster with ice green eyes. “Frankly, Zoltan, we feel exploited by you. I kept my part of the bargain, but you haven’t kept yours. You didn’t come