"The Dinner Party" by Joshua Ferris

I loved Joshua Ferris's Then We Came to and End and after I tweeted about his sexiness (seriously), Beth from Bookworm Meets Bookworm told me to read his short story, "The Dinner Party," via The New Yorker. I did and it's official - Joshua Ferris is awesome.

"The Dinner Party" explores the repetitiveness of domesticity and the restlessness that is often associated with it. It also questions to what point is a friendship, or relationship, worth keeping after one has grown out of it or changed. Are the superficial routines of the dinner party worth it? At what point do we stop pretending?
They come in,” he said, “we take their coats. Everyone talks in a big hurry as if we didn't have four long hours ahead of us. We self-medicate with alcohol. A lot of things are discussed, different issues. Everyone laughs a lot, but later no one can say what exactly was so witty."
The dialogue is hilarious. Ferris is spot-on with his portrayal of the everyday-bickering of a domestic couple. I almost wished this short story was longer. All-in-all, Ferris has yet to disappoint me, which is why I can't wait to pick up his latest, The Unnamed.

Image via The New Yorker.


  1. Great, now I'm curious. More books to buy. Good work.

  2. Joshua Ferris IS awesome, and yeah, if I were gay....well, you know. Thanks for pointing out that story - definitely gonna check it out. "Self-medicate with alcohol...": seems about right.

    This might have been before my blog found its way into your Reader, but I actually caught Ferris at a reading for The Unnamed here in Chicago back in February. Here are some thoughts, if you're interested: http://thenewdorkreviewofbooks.blogspot.com/2010/02/unnamed-walking-away-from-marital-bliss.html

  3. Ben, Happy I could help ;)

    Greg, Thanks for sharing! I just went back and read your post. I'm jealous you got to meet him. The only authors I've ever met were Nicholas Sparks and James Patterson (I'm sure you can guess how I feel about them). Also James Elroy, but I've yet to read any of his works.

  4. I like this short story slightly better than Then We Came to an End. I liked that book and I liked that it was in first person plural but it did get distracting at times and there were portions that lost steam. This was hilarious and perfect. I want to check out more of him now.

  5. Funny, The Unnamed is the only book of his I've read so far. It definitely left me wanting to read more and Then We Came is high on my TBR list. Thanks for the link to this story! It will be the perfect way to get another dose of his writing.

  6. Red, The first person plural of Then We Came To The End did get tiring, but I get why he used it. If you find more short stories that are worth the read send them this way!

    Avid Reader, It's good to hear you enjoyed The Unnamed. I'm really looking forward to that one.

  7. I still haven't read Then We Came to an End, but it's on the top of my TBR list because of this particular short story, and all the gushing I've gathered from you! Ha.
    I'm glad I could share.
    I would agree that it does examine the monotony of committed relationships. It's capturing this relationship between two people- the angst, perhaps qualities that were once endearing, yet have lost their appeal but still remain a presence in the obviously strained relationship.

    His attention to detail is incredible--the preparation of the food, the imagined dialogue between the parties is so exact and solid. Yet, actions like the amount of alcohol the narrator has actually ingested while considering the situation are slipped in-- layering the narrative.
    In the end you're asking, "Will she leave?"
    And you really don't know.

  8. Beth, Your insight is spot on. I feel like this needs a reread! I've never said that about a short story. Thanks again for sharing this :)

  9. Uhm, sexiness abound.