Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach (1991)

Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach (1991)

Ringgold’s tapestry Tar Beach (1988) and her children’s story Tar Beach (1991) portray classic rooftop entertainment. When Cassie Lightfoot flies over the rooftops of Harlem, the lights of the George Washington Bridge glow against the black sky like...
Dubose Heyward’ Porgy & Bess (1926)

Dubose Heyward’ Porgy & Bess (1926)

It’s a glorious September day when the residents of Catfish Row intend to enjoy a day on Kittwar Island in Charleston harbor. “It was the day set for the grand parade and picnic of “The Sons and Daughters of Repent Ye Saith the Lord,” and, with...
Jim Crace’s Being Dead (1999)

Jim Crace’s Being Dead (1999)

Crace’s combination of an awful  picnic and murder is not your average picnic. But Being Dead’s readers often find it so appealing they search for Baritone Bay, the place where the central characters are murdered.  There is no telling where they search...
E.M. Forster’s “The Story of a Picnic” (1904)

E.M. Forster’s “The Story of a Picnic” (1904)

“The Story of a Panic” is one of several stories Leonard Wolff complained that were “Pan-ridden.” It was well-known that Pan was code for identifying gay men and women. Woolf’s complaint implies that a Pan story such as “The Story...
Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose (1971)

Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose (1971)

Stegner uses picnic to contradict the expectation of the good times the word usually denotes. According to her grandson Lyman Ward, who is writing her life story, Susan Burling’s marriage to Oliver Ward was no picnic. She gave up a promising career as an illustrator...
May Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  (1969)

May Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Angelou fondly recalls the “summer picnic fish-fry” with characteristic high spirits. As narrated in her fictionalized memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou explains this was the biggest outdoor event of the year” in the African American Stamps, Arkansas....
William Steig’s Abel’s Island (1976)

William Steig’s Abel’s Island (1976)

Steig’s juvenile novel Abel’s Island (1976) is a Robinsonade, the adventure of Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint a mouse stranded for a year on an island in a river. Like Robinson Crusoe, Abel manages to live off the land and returns to his former life chastened but...
Sarah Orne Jewett ‘s The Country of the Pointed Firs  (1896)

Sarah Orne Jewett ‘s The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

Jewett’s chapters “The Reunion” and “The End of the Feast” from The Country of the Pointed Firs describe Bowden picnic reunion in the fictional town of Dunnet Landing, Maine. The family sit at long tables in a grove of trees overlooking...
Paul de Kock’s Monsieur Dupont (1825)

Paul de Kock’s Monsieur Dupont (1825)

De Kock sometimes styled the French Dickens, is known for his broad portrayals of the Parisian working-class society, affairs, cabarets, and other entertainment. In Monsieur Dupont, the entertainment spotlighted is a tumultuous picnic at Romainville, still a popular...
Philip K. Dick’s Eye in the Sky (1957)

Philip K. Dick’s Eye in the Sky (1957)

The picnic in Dick’s Eye in the Sky is characteristic of his style of mixing shifting planes of reality and illusion, laced with sardonic humor. The picnic takes when the real world collides accidentally with an alternate world it’s the result of an...