A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2001

Ordinary Pleasures

Couples, Conversation, and Comedy

Kay Young

Theory and Interpretation of Narrative



217 pp. 6x9

$26.95 paper 978-0-8142-5082-2
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Table of Contents


Literary culture is absorbed with the relationship between lovers and conversation. How could it have taken so long for someone to write a book about it? There is no other work directly on this theme and nothing like Young's fresh and engaging study. She shows us that of course the talk between Odysseus and Penelope should be examined alongside the talk between Benedick and Beatrice and the talk between Rick and Ilsa. Any critic of film, literature, or drama who offers to treat a scene of conversation between lovers will find a superb starting point in this book. —Mark Turner, University of Maryland

Ordinary Pleasures offers a new theory of narrative in its uncovering of how conversations and comic exchanges between lovers in stories create an  intimacy and happiness of the everyday. Drawing on a diverse body of theory (from sociolinguistics to philosophy to literary criticism) and reading an unexpectedly eclectic group of texts (works by Shakespeare and Tolstoy appear beside Casablanca and I Love Lucy), Kay Young explores how narrative couples play together, struggle together, and return to one another to experience what it means to be in a relationship over time.

Kay Young is a Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.