A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature

Suzette Field. Harper, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-227183-9
With panache, attention to arresting details, and a flair for mixing literary classics with pop-culture hits, prominent London event planner Field invites readers to 40 fictional parties, including those portrayed in Plato’s Symposium, Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. One of the most delightful? The Onion Cellar from Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum, where patrons chop raw onions into tiny pieces while pouring out their hearts to each other in weepy camaraderie, the inspiration for Field’s own popular event, Evenings of Exquisite Misery. Eccentric and witty, Field bypasses the obvious while favoring the frequently overlooked. In lieu of the Mad Tea Party, Fields treats us to Queen Alice’s Feast (from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There), where eating a dish once it has introduced itself to you constitutes a grievous breach of etiquette. Field’s tone is one of breezy erudition. The conversation at the Pooh party (in Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne) is “Beckettian,” while Gravity’s Rainbow has “a reputation for being dense and difficult to understand, but it’s really just a picaresque romp.” Occasionally, Field’s irreverent asides seem merely facetious (“One can only hope that Hollywood Dogs is in the pipeline,” she writes of the spin-offs from Jackie Collins’s Hollywood Wives). Fortunately, she quotes lavishly from her sources to splendid effect. Agent: Ivan Mulcahy, Mulcahy Conway Associates. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-227184-6
Hardcover - 301 pages - 978-1-4472-0955-3
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