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Complete Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 3 Feb 2003
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About the Author
Dorothy Parker was born in West End, New Jersey, in 1893 and grew up in New York, attending a Catholic convent school and Miss Dana's School in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1916 she sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue, and was subsequently given an editorial position on the magazine, writing captions for fashion photographs and drawings. She then became drama critic of Vanity Fair and the central figure of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table.
Famous for her spoken wit, she showed the same trenchant commentary in her book reviews for The New Yorker and Esquire and in her poems and sketches. Her collection of poems included Not So Deep as a Well and Enough Rope, which became a bestseller; and her collections of stories included Here Lies. She also collaborated with Elmer Rice on a play, Close Harmony and with Arnaud d'Usseau on the play the Ladies of the Corridor. She herself had two Broadway plays written about her and was portrayed as a character in a third. Her cynicism and the concentration of her judgements were famous and she has been closely associated with modern urbane humour.
Her first husband was Edwin Pond Parker II, and although they were divorced some years later, she continued to use his name, which she much preferred to her own of Rothschild. Her second husband was an actor-writer Alan Campbell. They went to Hollywood as a writing team and went through a tempestuous marriage until his death in 1963, when Dorothy Parker returned to New York. She died in 1967.
Regina Barreca is a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. She is the editor of seven books, including The Penguin Book of Women's Humor, and the author of four others. She writes frequently for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Hartford Courant.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I've been thinking a lot about this book. It is a must-read for the serious student of the short story. Parker, who is considered one of the best writers of the short story, was known for her wit and satire, which she aimed directly at the spoiled New York City upper crust living in the first half of the 20th century. Her short stories appeared in top magazines, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar to name only a few. But they were published as one-offs. Read it and be done. Assembling them in one book becomes problematic. It's wonderful to have a complete collection, but about halfway through, I found they were way too monotonous for enjoyment.
About the stories: They have very little to no plot; instead, they focus on relationships--primarily, but not exclusively, on women and their relationships with men, with each other and with the world. And there is LOTS of drinking! Parker writes of ordinary activities--a ladies' tea, a party, a speakeasy, a deathwatch--about ordinary people having ordinary conversations, but skewers it all so biases, prejudices, haughtiness and many human foibles are on full display.
--There is a married couple who appear to others to be so happy and satisfied with their lives, but have nothing to say to each other; their friends are shocked when they separate.
--A woman who goes on and on and on about how she isn't prejudiced, but her every word tells the opposite.
--Two young women get together in the middle of the afternoon, drink gin and chit-chat about parties and clothes and then complain about their friends who do nothing but drink, go to parties and buy new clothes.
My father kept a well-worn copy of "The Portable Dorothy Parker" in the bathroom. I'm thinking that's the best way to read this--a little at a time.
Dorothy Parker: a phenomenally talented short story and verse writer, and one of the most powerful feminists of her time. She fought racism and sexism--unlike some of her contemporaries like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, who abetted it--and was one of few during the 20's and 30's to write about such taboo topics as abortion ("Mr. Durant"). In 1929, she won the first place O. Henry Award for her short story "Big Blonde," and her story, "Here We Are," has been duly collected in The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Also notable: her poetry collections Enough Rope and Sunset Gun were both bestsellers, an unprecedented accomplishment for poetry in general.
. This biography is complete and helpful. It was a slog to get through the names of the many has-beens that populated her world. I gave it only 4 stars because of those many mentioned without explanation of who they were and why they mattered; and because the subject was such a bum. Another example of how brains, money, and arrogance combine to make a ruined life. Dorothy was brilliant, and her sharp wit entertained thousands during her reign. She wrote about her friends, drinking, money, unfaithfulness- the total of the lives of her many moneyed friends in New York City and Hollywood. An elitist by nature and arrogant by choice, she and her group are shown as desperate, lazy, unhappy, unsober; and quick to criticize the sober, happy, and hardworking for the sin of being boring.
. This is an indictment of the entire New York theater scene, and leftists of all stripes for good measure. Yes, I enjoyed it- and I'll never read it again.