Joshua Ferris, "The Dinner Party"

A husband and wife prepare to have friends over for dinner.

(from The New Yorker, Aug. 11/18, 2008)

On occasion, the two women went to lunch and she came home offended by some pettiness. And he would say, “Why do this to yourself?” He wanted to keep her from being hurt. He also wanted his wife and her friend to drift apart so that he never had to sit through another dinner party with the friend and her husband. But after a few months the rift would inevitably heal and the friendship return to good standing. He couldn’t blame her. They went back a long way and you get only so many old friends.

This was a real thinker. Hard to really discuss it without spoilerizing everything. But. I had to read it twice, the second time like a sleuth or a lawyer building a case, to see things the way they might actually be. “The Dinner Party” gave me a “The Swimmer” vibe; the feeling that the whole sad story was lurking underneath. Also, the dialog between the husband and wife as they prepare food and discuss the friends he seems to like only a little less than she does, is so sharp. Loved it.
Read it here.

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