(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Big-Breasted Pilgrim,” told in first person through the eyes of its protagonist Richard Howard Manson, focuses on a few, catastrophic days in his life. Richard is an assistant to Lowell, an internationally famous chef. Friends for more than twenty years, they live in a secluded house near Florida’s Key West. At the moment, they have a visitor, Kathryn, Lowell’s sister. Although Lowell has a girlfriend named Daphne, neither he nor his sister appears to be involved in long-term relationships or to have serious attachments. Nancy Cummins, an acquaintance of Kathryn, drops in to visit on her way to Miami. During the visit, Richard takes a phone call for Lowell from George Stephanopoulos, assistant to President Bill Clinton, requesting a dinner invitation so that the president and his wife can sample Lowell’s renowned cooking. However, despite all the initial excitement in the house, the event is cancelled because it conflicts with an event in the schedule of Hillary Clinton, the president’s wife.

As the story develops, its focus shifts to Richard and Nancy, who appears to develop an interest in Richard. She invites him to a high-society party at which people pass sarcastic judgments on various celebrities such as the singer Madonna, the designer Gianni Versace, and members of the presidential family. When Nancy announces that the president intends to eat a dinner prepared by Lowell, guests make jokes about the president’s eating habits, particularly his preference for hamburgers over fine cuisine. During the course of the evening, Nancy tells Richard that she has come to Florida to attend a bris—the Jewish ritual of circumcision—because a psychic told her that she would find her...

(The entire section is 700 words.)