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...
Edna Ferber’s Barbacoa Picnic

Edna Ferber’s Barbacoa Picnic

Giant is Ferber’s novel about how a Virginia belle, Leslie Lynnton, learns to be a Texan. Among her lessons is what to eat during a Texas-style picnic at her husband Reata,  Jordan’s ranch. At first, Leslie realizes that what she is looking at is “no ordinary picnic...
Mynherr Pieter Peeperkorn’s Picnic in The Magic Mountain

Mynherr Pieter Peeperkorn’s Picnic in The Magic Mountain

Imagine a man of dominant personality, Peeperkorn, standing before a raging waterfall telling his friends of his impending suicide. Imagine, too, that no one can hear him over the chaotic rumbling of the water. one of the friends, Ludovico Settemmbrini, who had often...
Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazon’s Picnic

Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazon’s Picnic

Arthur Ransome’s juvenile novel Swallows and Amazons takes its name from the Swallow and the Amazon, two fourteen-foot dinghies the children of the Walker and Blackett families sail in Coniston Lake in the English Lake District. Many of their adventures take place on...

Barbara Kingsolver’s Picnic in the Jungle

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 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...