8 Dinner Parties in Literature Gone Wrong

From Electric Lit:

There’s something inherently charged and dramatic about a dinner party—various individuals, couples, or families coming together to share a meal, perhaps several courses over several hours, with everyone trapped in their seats. No escape, interruption, or distraction. Just the food, and each other’s company. 

In real life, the drama of these dinner parties is often confined to a mouthy uncle, or a political debate that morphs into a shouting match after too much wine’s been served. In fiction, though, the possible dramas and dangers of a dinner party are almost limitless—the tight, intimate space of contrasting characters with conflicting motivations a perfect setting for writers to enact their very worst. A fictional dinner might be capable of upending a character’s life over the course of just a few pages, for instance. Or the dinner food or invitees themselves could be treacherous. Or, as in my novel, a dinner party could be the very inconvenient situation a character finds herself in on the brink of the apocalypse.

. . . .

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Jack and Grace are the envy of their dinner guests: he’s handsome, successful, and charming; she’s graceful, doting, and a wonder in the kitchen. Little do these dinner guests know, though, that the elaborate three-course meal Grace has prepared is a malicious test designed by Jack, a secret sociopath—and if the beef wellington is undercooked or the souffles overdone, there will be hell to pay. 

. . . .

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Protagonist Wallace, a gay, Black, introverted biochemistry graduate student, is pondering leaving his predominately White Midwestern university given the many indignities he’s endured inside his lab and on campus. Wallace’s limits are further tested when he’s invited to a campus dinner party. The danger, here, is overt when one of the other guests makes racist, incendiary remarks to Wallace during the meal. But there are also the more subtle, pervasive dangers of the institutional system in which Wallace is enmeshed, a system that consistently suppresses and permits these types of comments and conversations. 

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

5 thoughts on “8 Dinner Parties in Literature Gone Wrong”

  1. Just as Wokerei was gaining traction in the early-ish 2000s, I was invited to Denver from San Jose to interview as the CEO of a startup medical info company.

    Dinner was served at the Founder’s house, and every officer (every person?) was present. I provided my background experience and achievements, but then… it went off-script (at least from my perspective). They began to overtly ask about my politics, my social justice positions, etc. With the first question, I knew this was a lost cause. This personal grilling was the only thing they found important in the interview.

    By far the most senior person there, I danced for a while rebuking them for their lack of conventional manners (religion, politics, sex being impolite subjects in a formal context), but since they were not acculturated as adults, or shameable into polite behavior, and the job interview cause was surely hopeless (and I would never work with people this clueless), I leaned back, put my napkin down, and told them exactly what I thought about (A) this immature probe as an interview practice (as I recall, Queen Elizabeth’s lines about men’s souls played a part, to blank looks), and (B) my anti-woke opinions. With relish. It was fun — one of those “the hell with it, nothing to lose, go for the gusto” moments.

    I waxed eloquent, I cracked jokes, and the loathing and incredulity on their faces was worth every moment I spent explaining why the bubble they lived in was a bad thing, and how little their social/political opinions belonged in a business context.

    • Warren Buffet is “behind the times” according to the NYT for refusing to even talk DEI.
      He shrugs it off:


      Unlike Musk and (apparently) Altman, to whom big money is just a means to an end (the long enough lever for their chosen fucrum) Buffet sees money as scorekeeping in the game of high fiance and he’s not about to let a bunch of ideological iliterates tell *him* how to play the game.

      Wait a few years and see who is celebrating come his 100th.
      (In a new cloned body.) 😉

  2. Get woke, go broke for the millionth time, K.

    I’m not at all surprised they knew nothing about Queen Elizabeth I or that there had ever been a Queen Elizabeth other than the one Britain has now.

    Have you, by chance, paid any attention to what’s happened to the company in question?

    • They drifted along with the tumbling tumbleweeds and never got anywhere, like thousands of their kind.

      Mind you, the stupid was a definite improvement on the downright criminal…

      A small startup in Florida (funded by a Long Island dentist, a common backer type looking for better investment returns) interviewed me for a CEO position for a bank card for foreign students that would be filled by their parents. The subject matter experts were full of “I know a way around this” attitudes, and you could tell they were not going to be constrained by financial & banking regs if they thought they could get away with it. I turned it down flat, but I did them the trivial favor of putting up their 1st 3-page contact website which included a “Who We Are” page (without me).

      I didn’t keep track of them and the website vanished, but for more than 10 years, motivated people would track down who built that website and (with studied casualness) ask me if I happened to know how to contact that dentist. One could easily fabulate who they were and why they wanted to know. Bullet dodged — the “sniff test” is an important component of joining the management of any company.

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