My Imaginary Dinner Party

Today at lunch, a friend asked what three literary characters would I invite to a dinner party, and what would I serve.

I took me a while to answer the question. Mostly because I tend to think more about the authors of novels than the characters. So it would have been easier to come up with three authors.

Ernst Hemingway, of course, is first on the list. Though he isn’t my favorite author, I find myself drawn to his writing. Consequently, I read at least one of his novels every year. I would also invite Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar is definitely one of my favorite books. And while I was in grad school, I read a collection of her short stories, essays and diary excerpts that taught me a ton about how our personal diaries feed our work. The third person would be a toss-up between Jane Austen and Langston Hughes. I’m inclined to pick Langston Hughes. He is my all-time-favorite poet and a character in my novel. But I imagine Hemingway making the party into an old boy’s club discussion if there was another man there. Nonetheless, I pictured the four of us (either Jane or Langston) drinking wine and talking about writing. How cool would that be!

While I played this scenario over in my mind, my friend was still waiting for an answer. I thought about taking a cop-out by answering the question I liked better, but that’s kind of obnoxious.I didn’t want to be that guy. You know, the one who always has a “better” idea.

So I thought about all the books that I have read and tried to pick three characters who I would love to have a conversation with. At the top of that list is Jane Eyre, followed by Elizabeth Bennett and then Adah Price from the Poisonwood Bible. All of them were strong women whose strong beliefs echoed my own in some ways. I imagined the four of us discussing societal and religious constraints that have been placed on women.

Once I told my friend who I would invite, she wanted to know what we would be eating. I hadn’t thought about that. I was too busy imagining the particulars of the conversation. So much so that I thought it would make a great writing prompt for a short story, which I might be writing now if I didn’t have to cook dinner and wrap Christmas presents.

It’s interesting how many ideas I’ve had l since I started this challenge. Let’s hope that the momentum keeps up after this month is over.

I’m so glad my friend posed that hypothetical question over lunch. Not only was it a welcome relief from the tedium of Christmas shopping, but it has my brain spinning with ideas. I’d love to write a story about either one of those imaginary conversations.

I’m curious about who you would invite and what you would talk about. Post your answers in the comment section below.

Oh and by the way, I would serve pasta. It’s my go-to dish. In fact, it’s what I’m going to make right after I post this blog.

Until next time. . .

2 thoughts on “My Imaginary Dinner Party

  1. This is the type of question I ask others all the time, but never have an answer at the ready when people ask me. I’ve been thinking over the books I’ve read in the past year, so I’m going to choose three recent literary characters, rather than classics who would stand the test of time. 1) Beryl Markham from “Circling the Sun” by Paula McClain. She was courageous beyond muster and generally a bad-ass. 2) The Girl Who Save the King of Sweden – another spunky fearless female. 3) John Ames, the preacher-father from Gilead. He would inject a dose of wisdom and spirituality into our conversation. I would not invite Serena because, if she didn’t like the food, she would have her henchman kill me, probably by my own carving knife.

Thoughts???

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