Cover image for How we behave at the feast : reflections on living in an age of plenty
How we behave at the feast : reflections on living in an age of plenty
Currie, Dwight.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Cliff Street Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 221 pages ; 22 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BJ1581.2 .C88 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"He comes as a guest to the feast of existence, and knows that what matters is not how much he inherits but how he behaves at the feast, and what people remember and love him for."

-- Boris Pasternak, To Friends East and West

Never before in human history have so many of us luxuriated in pleasures once reserved only for royalty. Think of the comforts, the conveniences, the travel, the leisure we enjoy. Yet even with this abundance, we are anxious, confused, and full of dread. Dwight Currie asks the question, What's the problem?

How We Behave at the Feast is a wise and wonderful invitation to celebrate at the great feast of existence called life. Using seasons, holidays, folklore, and cultural events, Currie serves up an entire feast of wit and wisdom that touches the heart and challenges the intellect with gentle humor an original insight.

These fifty-two reflections serve as both guide and companion in a yearlong exploration of all the bounty life has to offer. January advances the notion that life is a banquet. February explores who is invited. March focuses on what we are served in life, and April reminds us that we are all April fools. May deals with our station in life; June with our response to that lot. July is about knowing how and when to say no, and August is for those times when solitude is the goal. September extols the dignity of work, October covers harvest. November is about gratitude and grace, and December's theme is acceptance.

Each passage serves as a reminder, a suggestion, a warning, or a reprimand that "of all the pleasures we enjoy, our greatest luxury is the freedom to choose. We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace."

Think of these pieces as table manners for the soul.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ex-adman Currie left Madison Avenue some years ago; he now co-owns an independent bookstore in Vermont. He's sold the usual self-help books, from instruction to soulful chicken soup. Now Currie offers his own advice, following the calendar with thoughts on how we act at the banquet that is life, and how we might more fully enjoy--and help others enjoy--this feast. Currie's inspiration is a Pasternak quote. His conversational commentary--on the banquet of life and our fellow guests, the menu and the host, table manners, and even doggy bags--is laced with anecdotes: some literary, e.g., from Thoreau or Pope; and some personal, capturing thoughts or experiences of Currie's family members or neighbors. Central to his observations is the idea that our presence at the feast of life is worth celebrating and that how we celebrate life (and behave toward others who share this banquet with us, however briefly) will determine how we are remembered when the feast is over. A thoughtful meditation on what's truly important. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In an age of comfort and convenience, contends Currie, most people do not know how to enjoy their good fortune. As a remedy, the co-owner and operator of an independent bookstore in Vermont offers advice to the "haves" on how to enrich their lives by acting with "civility and grace." In good-humored but rather simplistic essays arranged according to the calendar year, Currie uses holidays and other seasonal events as a springboard to explore the "feast" of life, freely using food rituals as a metaphor for social behavior--sometimes to the point of overkill. For example, reflecting on the first day of spring, when there is a balance of light and dark hours, Currie points out that a potluck meal serendipitously provides a similar balance of food choices, because those who bring dishes to this communal meal are both competing and cooperating. According to Currie, the lesson of potluck is to try everything and respect what others have to offer. Tax time in April reminds him of how his female relatives divided the check at restaurant meals according to what each person ordered, and leads to the exhortation to pay our fair share of income taxes with a smile. Although Currie's reflections and philosophizing are difficult to disagree with, they are served up with a heavy dose of homily that some may find indigestible. Agent, Mary Evans. 15-city radio tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
January: Life Is a Banquet!
What Are You Waiting for, an Engraved Invitation?p. 3
The Watched Potp. 7
Come as You Arep. 11
Make Yourself at Home!p. 15
Take All You Want, but Eat All You Takep. 19
February: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
It Depends on How You Look at Itp. 25
"Be Mine"--Or, the Question of How Many Valentines to Sendp. 29
May I See Your Invitation?p. 33
Spacious Accommodationsp. 37
March: What's on the Menu?
Are You Ready to Order?p. 43
That's the Way the Cookie Crumblesp. 47
Trusting the God of Potluckp. 51
Next!p. 55
April: The Perfect Host
If You Want to Make God Laugh, Make Plansp. 61
It's an Open Housep. 65
Getting Stuck with the Checkp. 69
If You Can't Stand the Heat...p. 73
May: Please Come to the Table
Please, Wait to Be Seated!p. 77
I Call Dibs to Sitteth on the Right Handp. 81
Your Piece of the Piep. 85
The Cheese Stands Alonep. 89
Dining with an Empty Chairp. 93
June: Dinner Is Served
Table for Onep. 97
Graduating from the Kiddie Tablep. 101
We Ought to Plan Somethingp. 105
Save Room for Dessertp. 109
July: Mind Your Manners
When in the Course of Human Eventsp. 115
Don't Talk with Your Mouth Full!p. 119
Would You Do That at Home?p. 123
No, Thank Youp. 127
Sending Regretsp. 129
August: May I Be Excused?
Go to Your Room!p. 133
Brown Bagging Itp. 137
Sincerely Yoursp. 139
Is This Seat Taken?p. 143
September: They Serve Who Also Wait
Just Justicep. 147
"Hello, My Name Is..."p. 149
September Songsp. 153
I'll Wash--You Dryp. 157
October: Would You Like a Doggy Bag?
Putting Food Byp. 163
This Isn't What I Orderedp. 167
Connoisseurs of Fine Whinesp. 171
The Crumbs That Fall From the Tablep. 175
Trick or Treat?p. 179
November: We Gather Together
Give and Takep. 185
Just to Get Things Startedp. 189
I'm Glad You Like Itp. 193
It's an Old Family Recipep. 197
December: 'Tis a Gift
The Chores of Angelsp. 203
Feeling Listless?p. 207
Everything Under the Sunp. 211
You Are Welcome!p. 215
Acknowledgmentsp. 219