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text 2016-08-28 16:40
Damn, can she write!
The Portable Dorothy Parker - Dorothy Parker,Marion Meade

After my last post of a few days' ago I went to my local bookseller and picked up a copy of a copy of her selected works. Since Friday evening I've been dipping into her short essays and critical writings, with occasional forays into her poems.

 

Damn, can she write!

 

In a way, having read some of her best lines separate from her works has dampened their effect for me, as they can feel like a recycled punchline. Yet within the context of their overall review they can gain a new power, like the knockout blow in a match or a fatal cut delivered in the midst of a sword fight that only becomes evident once the duel is over. Because there is something to her critical analysis that gets lost when defined by a few cherry-picked lines, as they only form the sharp edge of a devastating assessment.

 

What makes them so particularly impressive, though, is how well they stand up on their own, decades after the performances of plays no longer staged and the publication of books no longer in print. I don't have to see or read the works she reviews to enjoy the acidity of her assessments. This makes them literature in their own right, which I plan to turn to often for a good laugh and to remember how fantastic critical writing can be when done well.

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text 2016-08-26 04:32
My Dorothy Parker collected works venting
The Portable Dorothy Parker - Dorothy Parker,Marion Meade

It's probably not a good statement about me that some of my favorite writing is criticism, and nobody did it better than Dorothy Parker. Some of her best quips (such as "Crude is the name of Robert Hyde’s first novel. It is also a criticism of it.") were born in critiques of plays, novels, and other works. and I find that reading them never fails to make me laugh. This is why I find it incomprehensible that while collections exist of Parker;s short stories and poems, there is no collection of her criticism. The closest thing to it is a 500-page collection of her reviews of Broadway plays from 1918 until 1923. This is a travesty, akin to not having a complete edition of Mark Twain's short stories or Arthur Miller's plays.

 

Instead, I have to settle for what's available in the selected collections of her writings that include her criticism. There's really one one of these: a collection originally published by Viking in 1944 that has since gone through several updates, the most recent being in 2006. I would be more accepting of it if I hadn't read that some of her critical pieces (such as her review of Nan Britton's The President's Daughter) were left out of the latest revision, It makes me pine even more for a complete edition that captures the delicious acidity of her pen; until then I'll have to settle and make do with the scraps at hand.

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review 2016-05-24 17:48
from FictionZeal.com re: Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen Meister
Dorothy Parker Drank Here - Ellen Meister

Dorothy Parker was a real person of 1920’s fame, but this is not historical fiction, per se.  It is more about Norah Wolfe who works for TV talk show, Simon Janey Live.  The company is failing and if they don’t soon secure a phenomenal interview with someone ultra-famous, the show will be cancelled.  When Norah was thirteen, she’d read Dobson’s Night by famous author, Ted Shriver.  The story resonated so much with her, she became obsessed with him.  But several years ago, he seemed to drop off the face of the earth after a scathing accusation of plagiarism.  She now knows he’s hiding out in a room at the Algonquin Hotel.  She also knows he’s gone there to die as a brain tumor ravages his mind.  She knows … OK, she’s hoping … that if she could get five minutes of his time, she could convince him to come forward in an interview.

 

It’s at this historic hotel Norah meets Dorothy (Dotty) Parker.  At first Norah thought the hotel had hired ‘look-alikes’ to dress and act like the famous authors who’d signed the commemorative guest book.  Those authors were dubbed ‘The Algonquin Round Table’.  They used to lunch together frequently at The Algonquin during their day.  Slowly, it begins to dawn on Norah that this is THE Dorothy Parker.  Parker refuses to go to the light.  She can remain in bodily form as long as the guest book remains open.  Dorothy knows Ted and if she can get him to sign the guest book, he can keep her company after he dies.  Everyone else has chosen to ‘cross over’.  Dorothy conspires with Norah – her version of ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’.  Can they both get what they want?

 

Author Ellen Meister does a great job of carrying forth the wisecracks and classic witticism that would likely have come from Dorothy Parker’s mouth.  It’s also a very moving and emotional story that I didn’t quite expect.  I loved the cameo appearances made by Tallulah Bankhead, Lillian Hellman, Groucho Marx, and even Dotty’s poodle, Cliché.  Just when you think you’ve got the story figured out, there’s a tender little twist that ‘ups the ante’ for the reader.  This is Meister’s second Dorothy Parker book, the first beingFarewell Dorothy Parker.  It’s a fun, almost magical, journey into ‘what if’.  Rating: 4 out of 5.

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review 2016-04-12 02:21
Complete Stories
Complete Stories - Dorothy Parker

I am convinced Dorothy Parker is my spirit animal. She’s dark and witty and sarcastic and cruel and I loved every second of it. I had a long talk with my professor one day about several of these stories and how beautifully bitter they are, and the extent to which Parker was criticizing the role of women and society of her time. There are stories like “Mr. Durant”, which point to an irony so ridiculous it hurts. Then there are those like “A Telephone Call” which look as if they were written yesterday, that’s how relevant they still are. Others, like “Arrangement in Black and White”, point out to issues of class and racism in the 1920s yet more significantly end up pointing to the fact that many of these issues still persist today, except we have come to look at them differently (ie. we sweep them under the rug with greater confidence). They’re stories that have aged well, if at all. The details don’t matter as much as the sentiments however, for one doesn’t need to look far to see the same lovesick and sheltered women in today’s society.

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text 2016-04-02 09:00
April reading - the experiment continues
RHS Tales from the Tool Shed - Bill Laws
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York - Deborah Blum
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters
Toujours Provence - Peter Mayle
Undeniably Yours - Heather Webber
Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
The Convenient Marriage - Georgette Heyer
The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Lexicon of Life Hacks for the Modern Lady Geek - Sam Maggs
The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories - Dorothy Parker,Paul Cox,P.G. Wodehouse,O. Henry,Anthony Trollope,V.S. Pritchett,Muriel Spark,Evelyn Waugh,Saki,Damon Runyon,James Thurber,David Hughes,Robertson Davies,Elizabeth Bowen,Henry Lawson,W.W. Jacobs,Stephen Leacock,Richmal Crompton,Ben Travers,S

Since I did much better with my semi-planned reading in March than I thought I might, I'm trying it again this month with the above books, some of which have been sitting in the TBR pile for a very long time.  No non-fiction bricks this month, so perhaps I can get through the stack this time.

 

Happy reading!

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