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...
Up a Lovers’ Picnic

Up a Lovers’ Picnic

Newlyweds, Carl and Ellie dream of their future at a picnic. Walking out into the countryside, Karl and Ellie spread a picnic on the grass and dream of a family. Ellie looks up and sees clouds. Of course, their romantic dreams are never fulfilled. They grow old and...
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...
Beach Picnic in Something’s Gotta Give

Beach Picnic in Something’s Gotta Give

Up and down romantic suds with a happy ending. Aw shucks. Featured Image: A moment of picnic levity for picnic for Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) and Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson). See: Nancy Myers. Something’s Gotta Give (2003). Screenplay by Nancy...
Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Calvin Trillin’s In-Flight Gourmand Picnic

Trillin’s joke about his “no-frills picnic” while en route from New York to Miami is a tongue-in-cheek report of the consequences of his wife Alice’s frugality that he calls “Law of Compensatory Cashflow.” Because Trillin always (almost) defers to Alice’s superior...
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...

“This is war, not a garden party!”

“This is war, not a garden party!” Dr. Meade’s stern admonition to Scarlett O’Hara and Aunt Pittypat Hamilton during the siege of Atlanta. Meade reminds Scarlett that she must not abandon Melanie Wilkes and Pittypat that ordinary social customs don’t apply in war. ...
Ando Hiroshige’s Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama

Ando Hiroshige’s Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama

Hiroshige’s sly sense of humor turns this hanami topsy-turvy. What his title Cherry Blossom Viewing at Gotenyama does not suggest tis that hanami is a drunken brawl. Well into the afternoon, some of the men are fist fighting and providing spectacle for of nearby...
The Homeric picnic in O Brother Where Art Thou?

The Homeric picnic in O Brother Where Art Thou?

After three thousand years, Homer’s The Odyssey got a picnic. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s loose adaptation of Homer’s epic O Brother Where Art Thou? makes a picnic of Ulysses’ encounter with Polyphemus, the one-eyed. Picture Everett, aka Odysseus, and loyal follower...