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These 11 stories by Joshua Ferris, many of which were first published in The New Yorker, are at once thrilling, strange, and comic. The modern tribulations of marriage, ambition, and the fear of missing out as the temptations flow like wine and the minutes of life tick down are explored with the characteristic wit and insight that have made Ferris one of our most critically acclaimed novelists.
Each of these stories burrows deep into the often awkward and hilarious misunderstandings that pass between strangers and lovers alike and that turn ordinary lives upside down. Ferris shows to what lengths we mortals go to coax human meaning from our very modest time on earth, an effort that skews ever more desperately in the direction of redemption. There's Arty Groys, the Florida retiree whose birthday celebration involves pizza, a prostitute, and a life-saving heart attack. There's Sarah, the Brooklynite whose shape-shifting existential dilemma is set in motion by a simple spring breeze. And there's Jack, a man so warped by past experience that he's incapable of having a normal social interaction with the man he hires to help him move out of storage.
The stories in The Dinner Party are about lives changed forever when the reckless gives way to possibility and the ordinary cedes ground to mystery. And each one confirms Ferris' reputation as one of the most dazzlingly talented, deeply humane writers at work today.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 06-04-17
Snippets Of Life In Stories
OK up front I'll tell you that I love Joshua Ferris' writing. I love the way he captures the chatter that goes on inside the character's head. My favorite of his books was To Rise Again At A Decent Hour. I thought the first half of that book was one of the funniest things I have read in a very long time. It was banned bedtime listening because I couldn't stop laughing out loud. In the second half of the book the humor stopped, we switched gears and Ferris explored the inner workings of connection in life; the need and feeling of being a part of something greater than yourself as an individual. I loved the whole book and this may have impacted how happy I was to have a new work by Ferris available.
This collection of 11 short stories offers small slices or in some cases just slivers of life experienced by a wide and varied collection of characters. A reviewer on amazon mentioned that being inside someone else's head can be an uncomfortable place to be and I agree with that thought on one level. On the other hand, these stories really capture a snapshot of life as experienced by Ferris' characters. Unfiltered, strange, weirdly odd and at times careening out of control.
Sometimes the stories were easy to relate to and other times they stood out as completely foreign. Because of this, I listened to one story at a time, purposefully taking a break between each story. There was so much information, so much raw emotion that the transition between stories felt almost jarring. I needed time to process what I had just heard. Engaging, thought provoking, disturbing, at times funny and outrageous. Better buckle up, it's a wild ride.
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
By Kate 33 on 05-04-17
Not what I expected
I found this book to be rather disappointing. The only 'good' stories are toward the end so you have to suffer through a bunch of strange stuff before you get there. Too many of the stories are left just hanging, which may be some sort of style right now, but I find it disingenuous. I still enjoy a good beginning, middle and end, you know, a story. When listening to the stories that Eliana Marianes narrates, I highly recommend that you lower the speed to 0.75 or you will never be able to keep up with what she is saying. If you are debating between this book and another, choose the other.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful