I think by now, I have established that I am a bit of a book nerd. So, it would not be weird, knowing this information, that I do things like- Short Story Saturday! Not that I would actually do or name out loud such an activity. Ok, ok, I may have cried out to my wife- it is Short Story Saturday this last Saturday and there may or may not have been a party hat involved. Tee shirts are definitely not on the way.
If I had to name a type of book that I keep going back to, it is the short story. If I want to grab a quick read, I will often go for the short story/essay knowing I can pick it up and put it down or plow through all of the stories in one sitting. With The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris, it was the latter type of reading, due to the..um...totally not Short Story Saturday declaration.
I always go into short stories knowing this- there will be hits and there will be misses. Ferris' book is no different in that sense. My hope is there will be a lot more hits than misses. The other good news is that Ferris' book does that too. I also desire a short story to be the right length for a short story- about 18 pages or so, but definitely not over 50. The final good news is that Ferris' book excels in that too.
The only negative is I remembered reading a lot of these stories. I read the New Yorker often, so I had read or I was reminded I read many of the stories as I was going along, so I may have gotten through them faster than originally intended. So, I will warn, if you read the New Yorker, this is a collection taken mostly from that magazine. That was the only negative though.
There were more positives in this collection. Many of the stories deal with people, particularly males, struggling with connection and relationships. The first story for example is about a husband and wife, who are hosting a dinner party. The husband complains about how much he hates the people he is going to have dinner with, who are his wife's best friends. They are stood up and when the husband storms out to go find the couple, it turns out they are hosting their own party and he and his wife were not invited. Why? Well, I won't spoil the story.
Many of the stories have that type of vibe- an old man who only complains about his aches and pains, until a prostitute enters his life, a playwright struggling to write the pilot while his actors move on to other projects, a man who cannot interact with others, etc.
I found most of the stories were right on target and I loved this collection. The stories were well written, the right length for a short story, and a tight narrative that got the reader into the world quickly. I recommend this one.
I gave it 4 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- The Dinner Party and Other Stories by Joshua Ferris
* I wish to thank NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book. I received it in exchange for an honest review.