Joshua Ferris in The New Yorker

Joshua Ferris, author of last year’s Then We Came To The End, has a new short story in the current issue of the New Yorker titled, “The Dinner Party.” I’ve read a couple of Ferris’ shorts after reading the novel and he’s legit.  His stories on the surface seem unremarkable – the prose delivered with a breezy casual air – but they pack an unexpected emotional whollop that emerges as the story progresses.

“The Dinner Party” has particularly fresh dialog:

He returned to the kitchen. “When they come in,” he said, “let’s make them do a shot, both of them.”

“A shot?”

“Of tequila.”

“Her, too?”

“Both of them.”

“To sort of . . . fortify the baby.”

“We’ll force them somehow,” he said. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Better hurry,” she said.

“All this talk of folic acid and prenatal vitamins. Give me a break. Do they think Attila the Hun got his daily dose of folic acid when he was in the womb? Napoleon?” She was going back and forth across the kitchen while he kept his drink close. “I could go on.”

“George Washington,” she said, “a Founding Father.”

“See? I could go on. Moses.”

The arc of this story is somewhat unique, in that it slowly builds upon itself, and then rises sharply during the last paragraph, culminating in a climatic final phrase.

(Photo:  The Brooklyn Paper / Daniel Krieger)

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One Response to “Joshua Ferris in The New Yorker”

  1. White Says:

    Good one. It reminds me of the Joe DiMaggio short story (I think I’m recalling the title correctly) you wrote a while back, in that a lot of it is dialogue, but the weight of the story doesn’t come from what’s said. It comes from the personal histories and connections between the characters, almost all of which has to be implied by the reader. So much of the depth of the story/message/characters comes primarily from the person doing the reading, who of course has to be led there by the author. I’ve never written any fiction, so I don’t have much basis to judge, but I imagine that this is a difficult thing to pull off as an author.


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