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Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? Paperback – March 3, 1989


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Frequently Bought Together

Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? + The Portable Dorothy Parker (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) + Complete Poems (Penguin Classics)
Price for all three: $42.85

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 458 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 3, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140116168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140116168
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Meade's lively biography recounts the unhappy life of the wise-cracking versifier, short story writer and critic," reported PW. "So detailed is Meade's book that this, one imagines, is the last time a biographer will need to explain why so talented a writer could at the same time be so nasty a human being." Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

''A compelling and somewhat frightening tale . . . Meade is also to be applauded for a great feat of detective work.'' --Cosmopolitan

''An intensely readable biography . . . Wonderfully full, richly researched.'' --Mademoiselle

''This well-read, well-written biography caresses your ears like a tautly written novel. (Narrator) Conlin, whose voice is both rich and melodious, reads with great style.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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More About the Author

Marion Meade is a biographer and novelist.
Her most recent biography is Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKenney. Other subjects include Eleanor of Aquitaine, Madame Blavatsky, Dorothy Parker, Buster Keaton, and Woody Allen. Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties tells the story of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Edna Ferber becoming writers in the Jazz Age.
She has also written two novels set in medieval France, Stealing Heaven: The Love Story of Heloise and Abelard and Sybille.
Aside from her writing, she edited Dorothy Parker's collected works, The Portable Dorothy Parker; Parker's play The Ladies of the Corridor; and introduced Parker's Complete Poems.

Customer Reviews

It's a good read and very well written.
Carlos
I suppose I could tell you a lot about what this book says in these regards.
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com
A remarkable book about a remarkable woman.
A Fan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 168 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't think there is another decent review of Dorothy Parker's life in print.

I could go on and on about the individual bits of interesting data the book highlights: her relationship with Benchley, the Algonquin Round Table, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, plus her socio-political views, her misguided love life, her bitterness/love toward men. I suppose I could tell you a lot about what this book says in these regards.

I could lament how I think she is still an underrated fiction writer, as most people get stuck on her quips and witticisms, but her better skill was in unpeeling the subtleties of the everyday moment. I could, couldn't I?

There is plenty I could say about her insecurities, her foolish business mistakes and something bizarre about her dog. Oh yes, that would be interesting, that whole dog thing.

Instead, I'll just tell you this book is what is says, a thorough examination of the life of Dorothy Parker. You will be happy you bought it. It says everything I didn't say and more.

I fully recommend this book.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Patricia R. Andersen VINE VOICE on November 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was amazed to learn what I didn't know about Dorothy Parker - despite the fact I thought I knew a _lot_ about her. I was wrong and you might be, too. Did she really marry a homosexual man twice? What really was the relationship between Dorthy and Robert Benchley? Was she a Communist? And is Lillian Hellman as wonderful as M's Hellman makes herself out to be? These questions (and of course much more) are answered by this book.
You may think you know Dorthy Parker, with her "Men don't make passes.." and other witticisms that seemed to spring effortlessly from her mouth, but she was a lot more than a "flapper" or perhaps an "early feminist" - she was a true bundle of contradictions.
It's not the "feel good" story of the year, after all, if you've been interested in Dorothy Parker enough to read this far, you already know how the story will end. But it still is a wonderful read.
I suggest reading this with "The Portable Parker" as it definitely gives you an insight into the way her mind worked.
I intend to find out the exact address of her ashes and pay a visit to that esteemed place, since I now know where her ashes are located. And you will, too, if you take my advice and read this book.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By funniegrrl on December 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have read several bios of Parker, as well as bios of and memoirs by other denizens of the Round Table, and this book is BY FAR the most complete. Meade punctures so many of the oft-told tales about Parker, which are blythely repeated in other bios. She interviewed anyone and everyone still alive who could shed light on Parker, and does an impressive bit of detective work to prove that one of Lillian Hellman's many self-aggrandize stories was a fabrication. The negative reviews here are just puzzling to me -- I can't understand what more they want from this book. Far from being full of gossip or taking a kid-glove approach, this biography is exhaustively researched, fully footnoted, and shows all the contradictory -- sometimes unpleasant -- colors of Dorothy Parker.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Melanie's Reviews on July 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
All I could think of when I finished reading this biography was...wow. What a life, what a career, and what foolish choices smart ladies like Dorothy Parker can make. Parker had risen to almost iconic status with me as a writer and social commentator of her time. This book brings her back down with the balance of her brilliance with the reality of her misfortunes. The book could have used a *tighter* editor, but this is a must-read biography!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on December 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most engaging biographies I have ever read. Whether or not you are a Parker fan, this is a fascininating look at her life. I didn't know too much about her life prior to reading Meade's book, other than the common info about her drinking and suicide attempts. Everytime Parker headed for disaster, I wanted to shout "what were you thinking" but then her life wouldn't have been so memorable. This book is also a very interesting look at society and the role of women in publishing in the 1920s-1940s. Reading this biography will give any reader a greater understanding of Parker's work.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
"What Fresh Hell is This" was recommended to me by a co-worker. I found it to be a very easy read about a woman about whom we don't know much. It's at times touching--stories of her multiple suicide attempts; at times juicy--the tales of herself and her many friends like Robert Benchley, and at times, very forthright in letting us know that behind the wit of the Round Table was a woman who had many troubles in her life, but still manages to plow through. I recommend it to anybody who likes a light read about a lady whose style was anything but light. Five stars! Ron Caldwell
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Christiansen on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
The reader must approach this amazing biography with an open mind in order to truly comprehend the life of Dorothy Parker. Ms. Parker was a rebel of her time: she scoffed at the traditional housewife, laughed and exceeded men's expectations of women, and turned society on its ear with her personality. She questioned the preconditioned male society around her to create a world only she could ultimately live in (true to the subtitle of this book). Meade provides Dorothy's story with a writing style that compliments Dorothy in many ways. Meade captures Dorothy's sense of humor, self-destructiveness, and self-hatred beautifully. In a sense, this biography parallels Dorothy's short stories and poems . . . Meade remembers Dorothy for who she was and the struggles she endured.
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