John Banville picnic in The Sea

John Banville picnic in The 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...
Dreiser’s horrid picnic in An American Tragedy

Dreiser’s horrid picnic in An American Tragedy

Years after, Chester Gillette clubbed Grace Brown with a tennis racquet and left her to drown in Moose Lake, New York, Theodore Dreiser came upon the story and recreated it as An American Tragedy. The real murder had no picnic but Dreiser’s unacknowledged fictional...
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...
West’s Cardboard Picnic on Lawn of Fiber

West’s Cardboard Picnic on Lawn of Fiber

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...
Dumas’ Musketeers picnic on the battlefield

Dumas’ Musketeers picnic on the battlefield

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...
Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic

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...
Andreyev’s Nightmare Picnic with Samovar

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...
Charles McCarry’s Picnic on the Grass

Charles McCarry’s Picnic on the Grass

The picnic in Charles McCarry’s The Secret Lovers, a Cold War spy-versus-spy novel, is a sly allusion to Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe. When Paul Christopher’s boss David Patchen complains that Impressionists bore him and “Picnics explain nothing,” Paul...
McCarry’s Nightmare Picnic

McCarry’s Nightmare Picnic

When picnics are portrayed as unhappy, the contrast is purposeful. The intention of Charles McCarry’s picnic nightmare is to provide a metaphor for the life of Paul Christopher, a Cold War CIA spy still struggling to find his mother, Lori, who was abducted by the...
Vargas Ilosa Turns Picnic Topsy-Turvy

Vargas Ilosa Turns Picnic Topsy-Turvy

According to expectation, Don Rigoberto assumes a picnic is always happy. However, the hero of Mario Vargas Llosa’s Don Rigoberto’s Note Books stretches his imagination not to believe otherwise.   Having endured deep family and personal stress, Rigoberto tries...