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The Dinner Party and Other Stories

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  2,576 ratings  ·  413 reviews

The first collection of short stories from the author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.

Eleven stories by Joshua Ferris, many of which were first published in The New Yorker, on topics such as the modern tribulations of marriage, ambition, and the fear of missing out.

The dinner party --
The valetudinarian --
The pilot --
A night out --
The breeze --
Ghost town choir --
More aba
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
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Larry H
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'm at 4.25, maybe 4.5 here?

Sometimes you love every book an author writes, and other times you have a completely different reaction to every one of their books. Joshua Ferris definitely falls into the latter category for me— Then We Came to the End left me bemused yet ambivalent; I absolutely couldn't get into To Rise at a Decent Hour ; and I really enjoyed The Unnamed .

Despite that mixed track record, I still really enjoy the way he writes, so I jumped at the chance to read an early
Bam cooks the books ;-)
Read for Short Story Month--May, 2017. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read an arc of this book for an honest review.

These stories were my first taste of Joshua Ferris's writing so I cannot make a comparison to his full-length novels. However, these short stories beautifully showcase the writer's skill at characterization and the ability to get into each person's neurotic thoughts or bad choices in a few brief pages. Some, like The Breeze, were very invent
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it
To quote another contemporary writer, T.C. Boyle: “A short story is like a toothache and you must drill it and fill it. A novel is more like bridgework.” Joshua Ferris is a master bridgework artisan. Since discovering Then We Came To The End more than a decade ago, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed To Rise Again at A Decent Hour, and even the less critically-acclaimed The Unnamed.

His short story collection, however, doesn’t quite rise to the height of his novels. Yes, there are moments of spectacular insi
May 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Found these stories somewhat amateur with the characters wearing their desperation so obviously that if you missed it there's always an intruding narrator or some contrived observer-character lurking a line away to restate the bleeding obvious. Richard Yates has covered this ground so slickly- the quiet tragedy and violence lurking underneath the mannered civility of urban yuppies, the "trapped" married-too-soon couples and families drifting in indifferent sprawling American metropolises who wak ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Ever since Then We Came to the End, I have considered myself a fan of Joshua Ferris. That novel is one of my most-often recommended titles. I skipped The Unnamed based on poor reviews, but I chalked it up to a sophomore slump and thought no more about it. I eagerly grabbed To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and read it, but found the plot convoluted, and the overall effect was disappointing.

I was excited to see a short story collection, but after 5 stories, I'm ready to quit, and I'm sorry to say I
Leo Robertson
Evidently I'm in a weird mood this morning, explaining the below review. Just know that I almost ruptured my lingual artery forcing my tongue into my cheek that hard so I hope you enjoy the below and accept it in the heavily sarcastic spirit in which it was written :P (And J-Fez, if you chance upon this one, I enjoy your books, for what that's worth!)

Ah, MOST white men. We're MOST OF US NOT ALL OF US so privileged we can't even handle it when you so much as point it out. We scramble to find anyt
Mike W
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I sensed a thread of introspection weaving through Ferris' new short story collection, particularly concerning time. I could drill it down another level and say these are stories about people realizing that time truly is a limited commodity. In some it provokes fear, in others new life. In every case these musings cause interesting changes.

I won't summarize each story, but must mention briefly my favorite in the compilation, "The Valetudinarian". A darkly comic take on the Matrix (my interpretat
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I was half and half on these stories: loved 5 of them, the others seemed paler copies. The best are enjoyable: cynical, funny, well written, sometimes moving, but occasionally straining for effect. They often concern couples on the verge of breaking up, and needed something different to make them fresh, hence I enjoyed the one from the child's p.o.v. over others. It was a relief to encounter a different subject too, e.g. the self doubting (a lot of that) screenwriter at an L.A. party, the reluct ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I was in the car with my husband listening to NPR when we heard an interview with Joshua Ferris on his new book The Dinner Party and Other Stories. My husband is no fan of short stories but he said to me, "I'd read that book." I smirked because I knew I COULD read it. Being pre-approved by Little, Brown & Co. on NetGalley has its perks!

I downloaded the book and started reading.

These twelve stories are about how good people can make really bad decisions. The stories have humor, ironic twists, and
Kathryn Bashaar
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I frequently read short story collections, and I almost always find that I love some of the stories while others leave me unmoved. That was definitely the case with this collection.
When Ferris writes about 20 and 30-somethings and their worries about status and what everybody's thinking about them, that's boring to me as a 61-year-old woman who is past all that (well...mostly). And I was annoyed by one story about an "old" (in his 60s!!) man whose interest in life can only be reawakened by....w
Ilyssa Wesche
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to pick up at galley at ALA - this book kept me company at dinner (Gus' Famous Fried Chicken, delicious!) and at the Atlanta airport while I waited for my delayed flight. I don't usually read short stories because I don't feel invested in the characters before the end, but in almost every one of these, I did. I found fault with only one, and that is more a reflection on me and what I like to read rather than the story.

This is mostly a collection of stories about flawed middle
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Or, Men Who Are Very, Very Bad at Imagining the Inner Lives of Other People and the Women Who Leave Them

(Ferris is a solid writer, and particularly good as always in describing the weird, deadening routines of office life; I'm just really not in the mood for these kinds of stories right now.)
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well written short story but damn am I confused as to what went down lol. (I need to go back and reread this more slowly)
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not quite a 4* read but close enough to round up. Joshua Ferris is one of the "20 under 40" fiction writers to watch identified by the New Yorker in 2010. The eleven stories in this book were all previously published in The New Yorker. These stories are wildly disparate. They have no common link. They are somewhat on the dark side, as are Ferris's novels. Brief descriptions follow --

The Dinner Party starts with a husband complaining about the couple he and his wife are having to dinner. But then
Jonathan Maas
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great Talent in the Writer, Difficult to Like Characters

I graded this on a curve because - it set out what it was supposed to do, which is to tell tales from the perspective of self-involved New Yorkers who seem set on finding a way to not enjoy life.

Great writing, great tales, some experimental, some straightforward New York tales.

Like in 1922 by Stephen King, Joshua Ferris gets better the farther he gets from his primary subject matter. The second tale is probably the best of the lot, about a
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
THE DINNER PARTY by Joshua Ferris is a measured, slow burning book of eleven stories of modern fiction filled with complex, unusual characters that reveal themselves via anxiety ridden situations covering everything from infidelity and rejection to career failure and even murder.

This dour collection of what amounts to urban morality tales does have a smattering of humor peppered here and there among the narratives but on the whole, for this reader at least, it was like sitting through a re-run o
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: shorties
I am really not sure what to make of this. I want to say the best way to describe it is Newton's Third Law ; "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects."
I interpreted the collection of stories to be a parallel to life's relationships with others and how we can muck them up if we over analyze/fantasize the other's motives for more than what they are. As in real life, most of our responses
Jen Kirsch
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was sent this book of short stories (out May 2017) by Hachette Book Group. I had it in my library for the past month, and kept pushing it aside for other reads. Earlier this week, I decided to finally read the first of the short stories 'The Dinner Party,' of the books name. Within but I page I was invested not only in the hilarity, irony and sharpness of the plot, writing and characters, but the tone of the tale on a whole. I knew within the first two sentences, that I was in for a real treat ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Everything I've read by Ferris has been solid. This is no exception. ...more
Renita D'Silva
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved these beautiful stories, each one a gem.
Ridzuan Rosli
Jack was a good man, but now he had to ask himself a serious question. What does a man do — and I mean a real man, now, what does a real man do — when he knows he’s done something wrong? — Joshua Ferris, The Dinner Party (2017, 2018)

First of all, I would like to say that I love this book cover by Penguin Books. This edition is published in 2018, a year after first published in the United States. This is a comical short story collection by Joshua Ferris. I have never heard his name before. I thin
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 rounded down. One of his stories makes references to a book he wrote, Then We Came to the End. Men sure don't look good in these stories.

I love to read short stories, but I hate reviewing I'll paste a bit from a review from the Guardian by Marcel Theroux:

In his first short story collection, the Man Booker-shortlisted American author Joshua Ferris presents a bouquet of egregious male doofuses. Behind a deadpan title – “Fragments”, “The Breeze”, “A Fair Price”, “The Stepchild” – ea
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it
While this author's writing didn't really fit me, I couldn't help but admire the style. He has this very interesting way of slowly drawing you into a false sense of security with the story (you think you understand the characters and how things are developing)...and then there comes a curious sentence that keeps you pondering for the next page or two....and BAM! Things take a drastic turn and you suddenly are taken aback by the surprise that just hit you. ...more
4.25 Stars - Brilliant, simply brilliant! The Novella itself is a masterpiece, brooding with tension yet funny, real & is undoubtedly one of the most quintessential 21st century Novella OR short stories I’ve ever read..

There are other gems that follow, and whilst they may not feature the same shrines the title piece has, that’s no criticism!

Never mention GR scores ordinarily but come on, this 3.44 rating on GR is CRIMINAL!!!
Nick Davies
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
The author clearly has some talent, and there were three or four of these which I enjoyed, but in truth this collection of short stories didn’t ever really absorb me. There seemed a slight repetitiveness in the domestic themes, the American nature left me slightly distanced, and most of the stories took the path of setting up an interesting or awkward situation and then ending the story with this unresolved. The net effect was of ideas explored, writing muscles flexed, end product under-baked.
China Rodriguez
“I never used to live for my life. I lived to prove something, and to get revenge. But my life was a small, mean thing. Then, somewhere along the way, it became everything. That was terrifying.”

“You worry about losing everything. I worry about wanting to hold on to it. Some days, I don’t know if I have the strength to hold on to it.”
Leo Robertson
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy this guy's writing well enough :) As I think I've mentioned before, I don't see many people trying to be the next Joseph Heller and I think Ferris does a decent job.

That said I don't really understand all the praise. But I usually have a good time with his work :)
Daniel Simmons
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Acidly funny and squirm-inducing. As with most short story collections, this one has its hits and misses, some more gimmicky than genuinely thoughtful, but I found all of them enjoyable nonetheless.
Lindsay Seddon
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Joshua Ferris is the author of novels Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour as well as a story collection, The Dinner Party. He has been a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize. He was named one of The ...more

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