What's for Dinner?
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
know what you mean.” “He means,” Sam Judson said, “aren’t your problems ones of this world, the one with automobiles and houses in it, rather than of some other world, one we don’t know much about?” “Oh dear,” Mrs Judson said. “I miss my quiet living room and my chair, even if I did feel sad, sitting there.” “Can you tell us what you felt sad about?” Norris asked. “You and Mr Judson seem an affectionate couple.” “Of course we are,” Mrs Judson said. “Don’t put words in my mouth—I never said Mr
plays the oboe while Michael studies trumpet. You must come to the Easter concert. I’m sure it will be lovely. Mr Marks is a most dedicated teacher.” Under the table Patrick nudged his brother at this allusion to ‘Fruity’ Marks. Happily married, father of three, Mr Marks had a habit of resting his hand on a boy’s shoulder while reviewing a score. “At the seminary I attended,” Biddy said, “we had an all string orchestra. I played second violin.” She put her head on one side, held up her hands
stuff. I could ask Dad for money for that. Or Mom. Or I could have, before this happened. You dope.” Patrick shuddered. “Boy, I’ll never do that again,” he said fervently. “Actually, I was sitting here trying to think of a way to put it back before Mom noticed.” Dinner that night was a gloomy occasion. Bryan finally said, “What’s on your mind, Maureen? You act like you’re off in another world.” Maureen explained about the missing bill and said, “The teller may accidentally have short changed
sociology in college, and found I was interested in people. I like working with them. Then I’ve always liked crafts, since my days at summer camp. And then, too, there was the consideration of earning a living.” “That can be done in a number of ways,” Mr Mulwin said. “I suggest,” Miss Pride said to Mrs Judson, “that you pull the knots tighter. Otherwise, the finished belt will be stretchy and hang loose.” “Do you mean I should unknot all I’ve done and start over? That’s too disheartening.”
children quite regularly, so I feel in touch with their development. Baby Bartram is getting to be quite a big boy and can make letters. Not words, just letters. I’m planning to fly out for a short visit. I only wish they weren’t quite so far off. They can’t get away to come here—such a production with the children and little Debbie practically a babe in arms. It seems like yesterday that Sonny . . . but I musn’t get started on that.” Patrick came in. “Where’s Michael?” Maureen asked. Patrick