Dinner Along the Amazon is a book of twelve short stories by Canadian author Timothy Findley. He was a part of the Southern Ontario Gothic genre, a sub-genre of the gothic novel, and a title invented by Findley himself. The region provides the core settings for works in this genre and generally concentrates on the themes of race, gender and religion, but it also features a stern realism that is juxtaposed with the small-town outlook of the region.
Findley stated that this collection of stories was heavily influenced by the psychologist Karl Jung, and his main areas of interest, mental illness and sexuality, recur frequently in the collection. The overwhelming feeling of the stories is one of sadness; children are separated from their parents, husbands from their wives, and many are suffering from mental conditions that sees them separated from their own sense of themselves. Most critics agreed that the collection was impressive, but extremely uneven - in other words, the heart-wrenching and meaningful works are interspersed with prose that is derivative of other authors and works, particularly F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The strongest of the stories are written in the most straightforward way, and the most deeply meaningful of all is the opening story in the collection, Lemonade. Lemonade is the story of an eight-year-old boy who is extremely sensitive but has to deal with the physical and mental breakdown of his mother, who is an alcoholic.
War is the story of a little boy in the time of World War Two whose father joins the army; SometimeLaterNotNow is narrated by an un-named man who tells the sad and lonely story of a woman with whom he fell in love as a child, and whom he loves still.
The title story, Dinner Along The Amazon, details the life of Olivia Penney, who arrives home one day unable to decide how to tell her husband, Michael, that she is pregnant with a child they had not planned for. Before she is able to brooch the subject, unexpected guests arrive and an impromptu dinner party is held which only helps to heighten the emotional gap between husband and wife. Everyone drinks too much and tongues become a little too loose; before long there are drunken memories exchanged, including one about the deliberate disappearance of one of the dinner guest's husbands in the Amazon jungle. This story was adapted for the big screen, made into a short film in 1996.
Although most famous for his novels and short stories, Findley also penned several dramas; his most successful play premiered at the Stratford Festival of Canada, the "sister" festival of the original Shakespearean festival in Stratford Upon Avon, England. Findley was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Order of Ontario, and in 2002 he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame, located in Toronto, Ontario, where the achievements of Canadians who have succeeded in their various fields are lauded and celebrated.