Friday Favorites: The Portable Dorothy Parker

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dorothy Parker and her acidic wit are infamous. I fell in love with her writing after reading one of her cynical poems and just cracking up. After that I asked for a book of her collected stories for Christmas one year and my Dad said, “Of course you would like her work.” I think he recognized a bit of the sarcastic nature.

The Portable Dorothy Parker is a 600 page tome filled with her short stories, poetry, articles, letters and more. If she wrote it, it’s probably in there. She had a sharp tongue, but also a brilliant talent for writing. Her short stories were usually tinged with tragedy, giving a weight to her words. One of my favorites is “The Game.”

(The painting at the Algonquin Hotel above the Round Table, that's Dorothy on the left)

The poem below is a great example of her cutting sense of humor; short and to the point.

General Review of the Sex Situation

Woman wants monogamy;
Man delights in novelty.
Love is woman's moon and sun;
Man has other forms of fun.
Woman lives but in her lord;
Count to ten, and man is bored.
With this the gist and sum of it,
What earthly good can come of it?

Parker’s personal life was tragic, filled with unhappy marriages and alcohol. She was part of the famous Algonquin Round Table in NYC and never toed the line of what was normal or expected. Though I don’t envy her life, I do love her work. Her quips never fail to make me laugh and her stories always make me think. She was an amazing author.

“The writer's way is rough and lonely, and who would choose it while there are vacancies in more gracious professions, such as, say, cleaning out ferryboats?”

Photo by moi.


Mel u said...

I read and posted on her wonderful short story "The Telephone Call" not to long ago-I was glad to get your over view of the collection

Jenners said...

I love Dorothy Parker ... and the poem you shared is just a perfect example of how awesome she is.

Did you ever hear her joke: "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."

How awesome is that!?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I love that joke so much. And that's another perfect example of her wit.

Mel U - You'll have to check out some more of her work if you get a chance.

Bybee said...

I love that cover. My old (1970s?) version has a painting of Parker looking beautiful and bemused.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Oh, I'd love to see your copy. Parker has a great snarky face. Her disdain can seep through pages even decades later.

Vaishnavi said...

I have heard so much about Dorothy Parker but never read any of her works. I will be on the look out for it. Thanks for sharing :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Vaishnavi - I would start with a collection of short stories or poetry by her to see if you like her style.