Picador's favourite parties

18 December 2012

Anna Richards, author of Little Gods 

What is your favourite party in literature?

I would like to have been invited to one of Mrs Madrigal's dinner parties (from Armistead Maupin's books), for the company of course.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Halloween in San Francisco.

 

Belinda McKeon, author of Solace 

What is your favourite party in literature?

The awkward tennis party in The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen, the awkward academic party in On Beauty by Zadie Smith, the awkward 21st in Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, the awkward genteel gathering in Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Party scenes are so, so hard to write, but so much fun to read, if they're done well. Oh, and Maeve Brennan has a delicious one, cruel and true, in her short story collection The Rose Garden. And of course, there's Joyce's "The Dead" (from Dubliners)which sees to it that no Irish writer can ever touch roast goose or falling snow, ever again. Proper order too.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

There is a house on Upper Pembroke Street in Dublin out of which I have stumbled on more than one morning, songs and gossip ringing in my ears, while the respectable citizens of the city are heading to their jobs. (In fact, on a couple of those mornings, I have been heading to my job as well. But look. Worth every minute).

 

Stuart Evers, author of a collection of short stories, Ten Stories About Smoking, and a novel, If This Is Home

What is your favourite party in literature?

The wife swapping party in Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm. About as depressing as it gets.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Our wedding reception.

 

William Fiennes, author of The Music Room and The Snow Geese

What is your favourite party in literature?

Picador has been brilliant at parties recently - I'm thinking of the one with Princess Margaret in Edward St Aubyn's Some Hope, and the house party in Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child, which is just a tour-de-force... But my favourite has to be the Morkan sisters' annual dance in James Joyce's "The Dead": unforgettable. 

 

Rebecca Wait, whose first novel The View on the Way Down will be published in April next year 

What is your favourite party in literature?

Gatsby springs to mind. I also loved Brian Jaques’ Redwall books when I was a kid, and was entranced by his descriptions of feasts – the food sounded incredible.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Probably one when I was little – roller-skating or Laser Quest or a bouncy castle. Preferably involving a goodie bag at the end, because I was an acquisitive child. Grownup parties just aren’t the same, though the introduction of alcohol does ease the transition.  

 

Ben Myers, author of Richard 

What is your favourite party in literature?


The ‘Dress To Get Screwed Party’ in Bret Easton Ellis’ Rules Of Attraction?

What is the best party you have ever attended?

That would be the one in which Iggy Pop, Marilyn Manson, Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne were in attendance and there was free absinthe.

 

Daniel Rachel, whose book about British songwriting will be published next year

What is your favourite party in literature?

The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter

What is the best party you have ever attended?

As a schoolboy; the one when I ‘got off’ with the girl of my dreams. In my twenties; any number of house parties in Moseley (drugs were a cheap escape from poverty); in my thirties football parties in Regent's Park and lastly a surprise 40th in Filthy McNasty’s on Amwell Street.

  

John Butler, author of The Tenderloin

What is your favourite party in literature?

That in the The Line of Beauty where Nick Guest meets Maggie T.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

One Hallowee’en in San Francisco, massively high on ecstasy, I went to a roof-top warehouse party in fancy dress, as a medieval archer.

Moments after witnessing the guitar player from Metallica urinating onto passers-by below, I stumbled backwards through a plate glass sky-light and was saved by my friend Tom reaching out to grab me as I fell, holding me up by my chain mail. He (and it) saved my life.

 

Kirsten Reed, The Ice Age 

What is the best party you have ever attended?

I'm sure I can't remember.

 

Kris Doyle, editor at Picador

What is your favourite party in literature?

I think my current favourite is the dinner party in St Aubyn’s Some Hope.  I should also mention that Ali Smith skewers the middle class dinner party with great panache in There But for The; I’d have laughed for the entire scene if I’d not had to stop and wince so often.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Suzette Field hosted the book launch to end all book launches this year, for A Curious Invitation.  Her Satan’s Rout Halloween Ball was absolutely epic: five different themed and beautifully dressed rooms reconstructing five of the greatest parties from literature.  Attendance was preceded by a lunch to celebrate the publication of Mr Foote's Other Leg by Ian Kelly, so that particular Friday was something of a day-long revel.

 

Richard House, whose multimedia book The Kills will be published in four parts next year

What is your favourite party in literature?

General Cork’s dinner party in Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin. In post-war Naples a mammal from the aquarium is cooked for the occupiers to dine on, they believe it to be human. Creepy, funny, good. 

What is the best party you have ever attended?

When I lived in the US we gave Thanksgiving feasts. Days of preparation, to a final burst of activity.  Plenty of wine, three whole turkeys, whisky-spiced pumpkin pie, and, always, always, good company and much dancing. 

 

Simon Lelic, author of The Child Who

What is your favourite party in literature?

Bilbo's birthday party in The Lord of the Rings.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

My wedding.

 

Edward Platt, author of The City of Abraham and Leadville

 

What is your favourite party in literature?

Any of Jay Gatsby's

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Am I allowed to say my wedding?  Otherwise, I have to go back to 1992, when the graduates of the second summer of love thought the scene was over and I thought it had only just begun.

 

 

Jim Crace, whose new novel Harvest is out in February next year

What is the best party you have ever attended?

I hate parties. Come on, admit it, everyone hates parties. Stop pretending.

 

Ellen Feldman, whose most recent novel is Next to Love

What is your favourite party in literature?

The parties in Gatsby, but I fear I’m getting tiresome.

What is the best party you have ever attended?  

The Orange Prize party 2009.

 

Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures

What is your favourite party in literature?

Toss up between the Russians (Tolstoy) and the Brits (Austen)--we Americans are straggling behind, though Gatsby has some good ones. 

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Oh, I just love parties. Crowded ones, ones with smoking indoors, ones with smoking outdoors, ones with dancing even though I don't like to dance, ones with weird punches. I choose them all. 

 

Howard Cunnell, author of The Sea on Fire and editor of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road – The Original Scroll 

What is your favourite party in literature?

There's a wonderful scene set in a New England working class bar in Andre Dubus's story Anna. It's a piece of writing I've always loved and recognised.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Puerto Escondido, Mexico, Dec 23rd 1999 - 2nd Jan 2000

 

Jon Ronson, of The Psychopath Test fame. His latest book is Lost At Sea

What is your favourite party in literature?

No literature, but Abigail's Party.

 

Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me and The End of Everything

What is your favourite party in literature?

Myrtle Wilson’s in The Great Gatsby, especially when she tells Nick, breathily, about first meeting her lover Tom Buchanan on a train, his white shirt-front pressed against her arm: 'I told him I’d have to call a policeman, but he knew I lied.'

 

Naomi Wood, author of The Godless Boys 

What is your favourite party in literature?

It has to be the fiesta in The Sun Also Rises: six days of drinking, dancing and expat debauchery. It even ends the way every party should: ruined reputations, a drunk girl crying her mascara, and a good old punch-up between two scowling suitors at the end.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Either ‘Rum and Regaeton’, a Cuban house-party where we set up ‘Teach Yourself Spanish’ in the toilets, drank rum from coconuts and played Daddy Yankee’s ‘Gasolina’ on repeat. Or ‘Arabian Nights and Astonishing Sights’, where we wallpapered our council house with mosaic tiling and made a souk in our back garden replete with shisha pipes. In both cases, perhaps, the party’s preparations just might have been more fun than the party itself. 

 

Qais Akbar Omar, whose memoir A Fort of Nine Towers, about growing up in war-torn Afghanistan, will be published in May next year

What is your favourite party in literature?

Still waiting.

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Still waiting.

 

Rowan Moore, author of Why We Build 

What is your favourite party in literature?

The Veneerings' hideous dinner parties in Our Mutual Friend

 

Sarah Rayner, author of The Two Week Wait and One Moment, One Morning 

What is your favourite party in literature?

The fancy dress ball in Rebecca, when Mrs Danvers makes Mrs de Winter wear the same outfit as Maxim’s first wife. Ooh, evil!

What is the best party you have ever attended?

Hopefully, my own funeral.

 

 

 

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