I was lucky to see the play God of Carnage when it was playing in New York starring the late James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis, and I loved it. I also enjoyed the movie version (simply called Carnage) which starred Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and was pleasantly surprised. The sheer fact that you could not get over how uncomfortably each character was during the scene was brilliant. I cringed during the awkward silences, the passive aggressive looks, and the final moments when they confronted each other about views on life, marriage, and parenting styles. If you never got a chance to see either please check out the movie.
This brings me to the meaning of my post today. I recently finished (finished I tore through it) the book The Dinner by Dutch writer Herman Koch. I have never read anything by him before but I promise you will be picking up some more items now. This book reminded me so much of the play and movie that I wanted to see how the characters would deal with the situation they find themselves in.
In the book, two couples come together to have what else Dinner. The men are brothers, one is an ex-teacher, the other the shinning star of a political party who looks to be next prime minster. The wives, are supportive and loving towards their husbands and each other, but they are especially devoted to their children. Primarily their sons, who are the same age. The boys become involved in a crime that shocks the country, but they are never identified. Each parent finds out in their own way and has their own views on how to handle the situation that will be beneficial to all parties. The book is told from the point of view of Paul, the ex-teacher, and you see how he handled his own personal struggles, how he feels about his brother and his political aspirations, and how he interacts with his son, and wife. During the course of the dinner you can feel the tension building during each course, as the small chit-chat and pleasantries make way for the discussion that brought them all together. The situation involving their sons. It was a book that grabbed right away. I couldn’t put it down and wanted to learn more about each character. Koch did a phenomenal job of creating the sort of tension one feels with family when dealing with a crisis with such ease that you feel you are at the table next to them spying on their conversation. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.