Friday, December 10, 2010

"The Dinner Party" by Joshua Ferris

Source: New Yorker Fiction Podcast (mp3)
Length: 46 minutes
Reader: Monica Ali

The story: The unnamed protagonist and his wife are preparing for a dinner party where the guests will be the wife's best friend and her husband.  The protagonist isn't shy about his dislike for his wife's friends and makes some crude jokes about them. The wife good-naturedly joins in; she knows he'll put up with them on her behalf.

What starts out as this outrageously funny slice-of-life scene develops into a darker and deeper story, which is difficult to talk about without giving away spoilers.  Ferris, best known for his novel And Then We Came to the End, delivers a complex main character who is likable but also distasteful. His story delves into the multiple faces we present to the world and how our everyday masks can hide our true feelings.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Ali, author of Brick Lane, has a beautiful British accent with a melodious voice. She starts confidently inside the character of the protagonist, changing her vocal tone as the tone of the story alters. Her reading brings out the wonderful turns of phrase that Ferris provides. The discussion between Ali and New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman is enlightening and entertaining. This podcast is one to add to your list: in some episodes it falls flat, but from time to time produces really great stories like this one.

(image from Kevin Dooley. Creative Commons attribution license.)


Erez said...

First, thank you so much for a very useful site. I've just finished listening to "The Dinner Party" and really liked it. A nice surprise. Keep those great reviews coming!

Anyway, I recently heard a librivox title which I very much enjoyed and thought might interest you. It's "The Moon and Sixpence" by W. Somerset Maugham, masterfully read by Termin Dyan (here).

Listener said...

Thanks Erez. "The Moon and Sixpence" sounds like an interesting novel. I'll have to check it out.