Don't you admire those who can cleverly answer the "which three famous people, living or dead, you'd choose to have dinner with" question? Perhaps you have a boffo response yourself, but I've been stumped by the scope of potential invitees (i.e., everyone who's ever lived, out of whom I can pick only three!)
Also, for no good reason, I've always pictured the event in a vast formal Victorian dining room complete with an army of waiters, unidentifiable eating implements, and the obligation to chat in a sparkling manner to strangers on both sides and another one across the table.
A breakthrough occurred when I realized that anyone capable of breaking bread with the non-living also has these options:
Limit the roster to three writers, and I don't have to entertain them simultaneously
Ditch the formal scene
Offer each author his/her choice of any Round Rock eatery (because, for all its variety, our city offers no palatial 19th- century dining venues)
Did I also mention that I can select another famous trio any time I wish? Now that the pressure's off and comfort food is an option, I'm naming the first three lucky dinner companions:
Rick Bragg: I can discover whether his real voice sounds like the one I hear when I'm reading his artfully simple prose. He could give me the scoop on his forthcoming book, and I bet he'd choose a place with fried okra, cornbread, and cobbler on the menu.
William Dean Howells: He could relate insider anecdotes about Twain, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. Also, I suspect that he shares his character Silas Lapham's discomfiture wtih too-elegant settings and would appreciate barbecue.
Barbara Ehrenreich: I'd schedule our dinner for tonight in order to afford me a week-early preview of her latest: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. I'm unfamiliar with Ms. Ehrenreich's dining preferences, but, knowing her previous book, I'm prepared to leave a very generous tip!