P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh Picnics

P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh Picnics

Adam Dalgliesh takes a break during murder investigation for a picnic. An hour south of Salisbury near Lulworth Cove, he stops. ” There was an out of rocks and he sat with one at his back and gazed out over the coppices to the wide blue stretch of the Channel....
Günter Grass’ Barbaric Picnic in The Flounder

Günter Grass’ Barbaric Picnic in The Flounder

Grass’ unconventional picnic in The Flounder (1977) is among the worst. Not only does Grass mock the accepted idea of a picnic but in doing so turns Greek mythology topsy-turvy. It’s an episode in which the key figure is Sybille, aka Billie, a name that is a variation...
Virginia Woolf’s picnic on Monte Rosa (The Voyage Out)

Virginia Woolf’s picnic on Monte Rosa (The Voyage Out)

Woolf’s picnic on the summit of Monte Rosa, a fictional place in South America, is the high point (pun intended) of The Voyage Out (1915). Journeying on donkeys walking in single file, the narrator creates the image of “a jointed caterpillar, tufted with the white...

Barbara Kingsolver’s Picnic in The Poisonwood Bible

Among ruined picnics, Kingsolver’s Congo picnic ranks high. It’s a highlight of misadventure in The Poisonwood Wood Bible, a novel the name of which is derived from a misunderstanding of local language. When Reverend Nathan Price says, “Tata Jesus is...
John Banville’sThe Sea

John Banville’sThe Sea

John Manville’s The Sea is about a man’s untrustworthy memories—less about his dying wife, and more about his sexual awakening when he was about eleven years old. Looking back, Max Morden realizes that his observations of the Grace family’s beach picnics “changed his...
Hawthorne’s Farmers’ Lunch in The Blithedale Romance

Hawthorne’s Farmers’ Lunch in The Blithedale Romance

Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance is story of Blithedale, a communal farm, at where Mile Coverdale and Charles Hollingsworth vie for the affection of Priscilla, an ethereal waif as she seems to float rather than walk on the ground. One of Frederick Townsend’s...
Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust

Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust may have been the best novel ever written about Hollywood, but Nathanael West and his publisher Random House miscalculated. They believed an acerbic satire of the film industry and it’s insidious confusion of illusion and reality would sell, but...
Alexandre Dumas’ Musketeers Picnic

Alexandre Dumas’ Musketeers Picnic

Among picnics on the battlefield the déjeuner sur l’herbe in The Three Musketeers sets the pattern for sardonic humor. It’s meant as yet another instance of the Musketeers’ bravado, but Alexandre Dumas and Auguste Maquet (his co-author) add comic relief to the serious...
Leonid Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic

Leonid Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic

Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh is antiwar horror story about Russia’s war in Manchuria. The novel is constantly downbeat and each of its chapters is a fragment, the first of which begins “Horror and Madness.” The picnic happens after soldiers on the front lines drag...
Leonid Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic with Samovar

Leonid Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic with Samovar

The picnic in Leonid Andreyev’s The Red Laugh is a nightmarish description of soldiers on the front lines dragging a comrade who is already dead to safety. Their universe the narrator says says is “red” and making a sardonic joke that no one else understands he says...