Lucinella, By Lore Segal

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The Independent Culture

This novella, first published in 1976, is as much a part of the New York cultural scene of that era as a Woody Allen film, what with its neurotic, self-obsessed characters, their over-reaching ambitions and their over-articulate conversations.

At the centre of a seemingly endless round of literary parties, Lucinella, a poet, is as oblivious as the rest of the writers around her to the self-regarding and competitive nature of their world. She begins a relationship with a fellow poet, but can't help wondering if he's good enough for her when there are better, prize-winning poets around; she wants to get to work on a new poem but has to get her coloured folders in order first.

Everything around her is a potential poem, if only she had the time to write it all down. Lore Segal takes easy pops at a group of people who imagine they are the literary gods of the universe (there is a very funny exchange between Lucinella and Hera, the wife of Jupiter). Yet, while still sharp, it might not make much sense to those outside the scene she is satirising.