"Here's mud in your eye"
Reading that simple line in Dorothy Parker's semi autobiographical 1929 short story Big Blonde pretty much sums up the life and work of a woman who could slice and dice American culture to shreds with the sharpness of her wit and the slashing of her words (not to mention the egos of a few men she knew--look out Norman Mailer!).
Dorothy Parker is most often remembered for her quotes and drunken brashness and open honesty about love and sex during the heart of the Jazz Age. She was also a celebrated member of the Algonquin Round Table in Manhattan whee her booze soaked luncheons with other New York literary royalty were often filled with festivity and fizz. It was the 1920's and flappers were flying, Gatsby was Great, and the Sun was Rising on Hemingway's career. It was also primetime for Dorothy Parker.
The Portable Dorothy Parker is simply a goldmine of Parker poetry, prose, stories and letters. Her review of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key that appeared in a 1931 New Yorker is simply the funniest book review I've ever read. Describing Hammett she says, "It is true he is so hard-boiled you could roll him on the White House lawn." Wow.
Parker was a poet of such incredibly acerbic wit that I relish re-reading her works so I can etch the dust from the lobes of my brain. For instance, she says in a poem titled Oscar Wilde:
If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
Pick up The Portable Dorothy Parker with steel-mesh gloves because these words can cut--but they're more like slicing a prime cut of tenderloin than skimming fat off pork-bellies. Forget about her ban from Hollywood and her claims of communism and look instead into the words of a brilliant and troubled woman who shot from the hip and hit between the eyes.
Living well is the best revenge. --Dorothy Parker
Dan @ Central