Party scene from Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film The Great Gatsby, courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

If F. Scott Fitzgerald had his way, The Great Gatsby may not have been known as The Great Gatsby. Instead, we might be calling it Trimalchio or Trimalchio in West Egg, the author’s preferred working titles for his best-known novel — that is, until his publisher pointed out that no one would get his reference to the hard-partying character from Satyricon, a work of fiction published in first-century Rome. In Suzette Field’s tome A Curious Invitation: 40 Greatest Parties in Fiction, Gatsby and Trimalchio are brought together — alongside Stephen King’s Carrie, Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Tom Wolfe’s social x-rays — in a compilation of literature’s 40 greatest soirees. Each event, from Gatsby’s Saturday night bashes to Carrie’s prom, is broken down into a veritable who’s who, what they wore and what they ate and drank. Because plenty of writers have thrown legendary parties — Truman Capote and Fitzgerald among them — but the best way to stage an unforgettable fete? Write it into creation.

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