Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, Dorothy, you have bewitched me so.

It's taking me a little longer than I thought it would to get through "The Portable Dorothy Parker." It is deliciously large - 613 pages of her short stories, poems, reviews, magazine articles and personal letters.

I've been reading it on and off for about a month and a half now, and have highlighted so many lines and entries already that it resembles a textbook. I identify with so many aspects of her writing: the drink, New York, the dark thoughts, the era.
Dorothy Parker Pictures, Images and Photos
I'm finding that her poems enthrall me the most. That's surprising because, while I can appreciate poetry, it's just not usually my bag.

Dorothy is so darkly humorous, such as in "Resume" from "Enough Rope:"

"Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live."

So simple, and just so adaptable to anyone who just feels tragic some days, you know? The list goes on - she could have written "Nocturne" or "Symptom Recital" from some of my journal entries over the years.

Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading the short story, "The Little Hours," whose narrator is an insomniac, a trait I share. There are too many little snippets of brilliance for me to share here, so I can only suggest that you read the story yourself.

(OK, here's just one:
"Solitude is the safeguard of mediocrity and the stern companion of genius."
That's all.)

I look forward to getting deeper into the works of Mrs. Parker, about whom writer / critic / Algonquin Round Table founder Alexander Woollcott said,

"That bird only sings when she's unhappy."

I'd like to think that she was happy with her stories and her poems and her booze and her dogs. I'm pretty happy most of the time with all those things (sans dog right now) regardless of how dark or bitchy I can be. (Not that I can be compared to someone so incomparable as Dorothy of course.)

Here's one final savory Parker-isms:

"I know this will come as a shock to you, Mr. Goldwyn, but in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending."
Well, I'd still like to strive for one, wouldn't you?
The Portable Dorothy Parker Pictures, Images and Photos

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