Günter Grass’s The Flounder (1977)

Günter Grass’s The Flounder (1977)

Grass’s 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...
Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies (1956)

Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies (1956)

Time and details in Beckett’s Malone Dies are contradictory and often obscure. Events of the narrative are especially confusing, especially as it reaches a bloody climax that ends with a picnic where six people are hacked to death. This event is related by the...
Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925)

Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1925)

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...
Isabel Colgate’s The Shooting Party

Isabel Colgate’s The Shooting Party

Isabel Colgate’s The Shooting Party is a snapshot of English gentry circa October 1913 when Sir Randolph and Minnie Nettleby, the lord and lady of the manor, host one of their traditional fall shooting parties. It’s accompanied by a halt on the hunt, or midday break...
Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin (1867)

Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin (1867)

Thérèse Raquin and her lover Laurent LeClaire murder her husband, Camille, at a picnic. It’s a pivotal scene in Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, illustrating that when people give in to the “fatalities of their flesh,” they become “brutes humaines.” In this instance,...