An Unpublished Novel

April 14, 2015

THE DINNER PARTY is a novel in search of  an agent.  I have three self-published novels, which have garners stunning reviews. And if I publish this one, the same will happen. The pitch line reads as follows:

THE DINNER PARTY is a psychological study of a woman obsessed with bringing justice to bear (revenge) on her abusive husband, an arrogant English professor transformed into a hated New York literary critic. The period is the 1950’s. Here is “A Look Inside.”

A number of guests stood on the front porch of the great house looking out into the black, rain-soaked night, silent, staring, fascinated. The two white-jacketed attendants lifted the gurney carrying the mountainous covered body into the ambulance and closed the doors. The ambulance moved over the gravel of the circled driveway, and the central fountain spilled and splashed its waterworks already bloated to overflowing from the rains. Blind Justice stood in the center of the fountain, balancing her scale. An electric gate parted and the ambulance disappeared. The doctor nodded to the hostess standing on the front porch, then he turned and left to find his car. The reporter tipped his hat and also left. The guests began their return indoors. “Did she kill him?” one asked another. “Ah, did she?” came a response.

The orchestra started up.

Part I

Early that morning in Upstate New York

Blind Justice shone radiant as the rays of sunshine knifed through the clouds onto her freshly washed faced. One after another, catering vans circled the gravel-coated driveway, circled around her, and parked off to the side. The workers jumped out, already aproned, threw open the rear doors of their vans like curtains to a theatrical production: a puppet show? a burlesque? a tragedy? They carried boxes of pots and pans, canned goods, and fresh produce, toward an inconspicuous door, all the while eyeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex of a crane hoisting an elongated crate high above their heads and moving toward an enormous gabled window. They kept their eyes on that crate.
In the entry hall of her home, Mame Dyne stood looking up. She was a tall, dramatically arranged woman with large shoulders and a mantle of black hair that fell blunt to the shoulders. She raised her arm over her silk leopard kimono to protect her eyes from the morning glare as she watched the open side of the gabled window for the oncoming crane.

“I frequently sell sculpture from my entry hall,” she said to her new assistant, Ellery, a diminutive man at her side, “as well as masterworks right off my living room walls. Some of my guests tonight have never stepped foot in my gallery. They will walk in, come face-to-face with a wonderful work of art in the entry, realize it must be exceptional because it stands in my own home, and since I am primarily a dealer rather than a collector, I may be coaxed into selling the piece.” She poked him in the ribs. “Ah, here it comes, Ellery.” The dinosaur moved in slow motion; the crate careened drunkenly. “I am assured that all of my guests will come, the whole satiated lot; and the secret to that is inviting an extraordinary guest of honor.” She fanned out her blood-red fingernails in front of her.

“I don’t understand.”

“Bait, my adorable little man.”

“I thought this was a social event.”

She screwed up an eye and looked like a one-eyed pirate as she slapped her hand against Ellery’s puny chest. “The selling of art, my dear Ellery, is the purpose for all of the Mame Dyne dinner parties. They’re the engine that drives one of New York’s most flourishing galleries.”

“Then this is both a business and social event,” said Ellery, a middle-aged man with a body so slight that one wondered if he purchased his suits in the boys’ department.

“Everything I do in my life is designed to promote art. First and last. Don’t look so surprised, Ellery. All highly successful people carry their motives straight into social events; they’re prepossessed with their pursuits. And my guests, you may be assured, are prepossessed, as well. They come from all walks of life; and yet their commonality, every last one of them, is self-promotion of some sort. Believe me, my little man, beneath social interaction with this set is the hum of the hustle: of buying and selling, sometimes honest, sometimes not.” And she waved her hand flippantly in the air.

“I don’t live that way.”

“That’s why you’re working for me instead of the other way around.” She patted him lightly on the top of his boyish head. “It’s all right, Ellery.”
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