John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids (1951)

Bill Masen and Josella Platon, exhausted survivors of vicious triffids, mutant plants with a taste for human flesh and blood, are stranded in a ruined landscape of Southampton. Wistfully, they are waiting to escape to Isle of Wight, a new Eden, which has been cleared...
D.H. Lawrence’s Picnic on a Train in Aaron’s Rod

D.H. Lawrence’s Picnic on a Train in Aaron’s Rod

Aaron Sissons, the protagonist of D. H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod leaves his wife and three young children to find himself. Something he never does. The “rod” is his flute, which he plays well enough to earn a modest living. It is also a pun on his sexuality and...
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...
Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (1930)

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (1930)

Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons is takes its name from the Swallow and the Amazon, two fourteen-foot dinghies that the children of the Walker and Blackett families sail in Coniston Lake in the English Lake District they act out their adventures, play pirates, and...

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...