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The Portable Dorothy Parker Paperback – December 9, 1976


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Rev Enl edition (December 9, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140150749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140150742
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Before there was Fran Leibowitz, there was Dorothy Parker. Before there was practically anyone, there was Dorothy Parker. When it comes to expressing the pleasure and pain of being just a touch too smart to be happy, she's winner and still champion after all these years. Along with Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, and the rest of the Algonquin Round Table, she dominated American pop lit in the '20s and '30s; like Ginger Rogers, she did it all backwards. Parker's held up well--maybe the best of all of them.

This book is essential for any Parker fan, and an excellent way for new readers to make her acquaintance. It reprints her finest short stories and poems, some later articles, and all of her excellent "Constant Reader" book reviews from the Depression-era glory days of the New Yorker. The poetry, always light, has become brittle, sorry to say. But you've only to pick any story to be reminded that no middle-distance writer was better than Parker at her best.

Review

Dorothy Parker doesn't just reveal the hypocrisies, vanities, myths, and foibles of her characters, she skewers them - in a style that is merciless, wickedly funny, and often sad. There is the rich and selfish Mrs. Whittaker: "Mrs. Whittaker's dress was always studiously suited to its occasion; thus, her bearing had always that calm that only the correctly attired may enjoy." And Mr. Durant, whose affair with his stenographer has taken an unfortunate, one might say pregnant, turn: "Mr. Durant wished to God that he had never seen Rose. He explained this desire to her." "The woman with the pink velvet poppies" repeatedly and at great length assures her host that she can't wait to meet the guest of honor because "I don't see why on earth it isn't perfectly all right to meet colored people. I haven't any feeling at all about it - not one single bit." Then there is Hobart Ogden, "a very good-looking young man indeed, shaped to be annoyed," who works his way through an unlimited number of women. Sometimes related in the first-person, sometimes by a third-person narrator, these stories show us what people can not, or will not, see themselves. Her stories, along with the play and book reviews that are included in this collection, are quick, sharp, and dazzling. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister

To say that Mrs. Parker writes well is as fatuous, I am afraid, as proclaiming that Cellini was clever with his hands . . . Mrs. Parker has an eye for people, an ear for language, and a feeling for the little things of life that are so immensely a part of the process of living. -- Ogden Nash

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I fully recommend this book.
A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com
He also knows all about Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table and has lists of books for me to read.
Rebecca of Amazon
The short stories are ironic and witty, the poetry is amazing.
Sarah Mulchand

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Rivkah Maccaby on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not enough to say that Dorothy Parker was great, or that she was brilliant. It's hard to see from a distance her colossal impact on the literary world. When you buy this book (and you WILL buy it; these aren't the droids you're looking for) immediately read some of the very earliest stories. They are of WWI vintage or so. If you remember high school literature, short stories written just before Parker put pen to paper were the somewhat longer "chapter of a novel" type, of Guy de Maupassant, or W. Somerset Maugham. Dorothy Parker virtually invented the "slice of life" short story, which she brought to the New Yorker. This style became the standard of the fledgling magazine, popular with the public, and without a doubt helped get the magazine off the ground.
This style is still the pervasive one today.
Short stories were not all Mrs. Parker wrote. She wrote play reviews, and as Constant Reader book reviews. She could dismiss a play with "House Beautiful is Play Lousy," or take down her least favored AA Milne with "Tonstant Weader frowed up." She once spent the better part of a review complaining about her hang-over. She kept New Yorker readers coming back week after week, laugh junkies after a fix. And so she changed the voice of the reviewer as well. Previously, the reviewer voice had been detached and quite dry, rattling off obligatory lines about the costumes, the sets, the leading actor, the leading actress-- as predictable as the label on a shampoo bottle. The wonderful Libby Gelman-Waxner is her direct descendent. Pauline Kael is a niece, although she might have bristled at the suggestion. Andrew Harris and Elvis Mitchell can thank Mrs. Parker for their unfettered freedom.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
On one occasion, when challenged by a friend to use the word 'horticulture' in a sentence, Dorothy Parker replied "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." Possessed of a razor sharp intelligence and a wicked turn of phrase, she stands as perhaps the single finest American wit and humorist of the early 20th Century. This expanded edition of THE PORTABLE DOROTHY PARKER collects all three of her volumes of poetry, both volumes of her collected short stories, and a great deal more besides--all of it guaranteed to give readers hour after delightful hour.
Like her contemporary and only serious competitor James Thurber, Parker's work often focused on the battle of the sexes, and many of her short stories--such as "Dusk Before Fireworks," "You Were Perfectly Fine," and "Here We Are"--present savagely funny portaits of couples who are on the edge in more ways than one. She is also extremely famous for her 'monologue' stories, particularly "Telephone Call," in which the reader essentially overhears the thoughts of the character it portrays. But she is perhaps best remembered for her sharply comic poetry, which is typically written as a subverted 'jingle' that goes unexpectedly awry, often in the most morbid way imaginable; "One Perfect Rose" and "You Might As Well Live," to name but two, have been standards of American poetry collections since they were first published. And no theatrical critic has ever equalled Parker for sheer comic acidity.
But Parker was not simply a humorist. While a number of her poems address deeper subjects--"Rainy Night" is particularly memorable--many of her short stories are intensely dramatic.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the one you want. The sum of it all, or at least, the bulk of Dorothy Parker's best stuff. Buy this book first, read it, then read it to your friends. Then buy them a copy.

Read to your friends her gloriously articulate rips into her peers' books, her acidicly cynical (but humbly honest) poetry about her relationships, and her well-crafted stories about a moment in life. Pour some coffee, then read some more.

You probably know her quote about 'horticulture' and might be familiar with what she said about the girls from Yale. Maybe in high school you read her famous poem, "Resume" ("Razors pain you/acid stains you..."). Now, introduce yourself to her other work. Her poems and other turns-of-phrase are never raunchy, but somehow, in her brutal clarity, some still fill in the not so naive reader with plenty to laugh at.

Her stories helped found the New Yorker Magazine, where she was an editor. Her book reviews are on the insightful, smirking level of Mark Twain's review of "Last of the Mohicans." Her ability to insult a book or play is more than just witty, but more than often intensely accurate. She wasn't just making fun of a writer, but educating them. She tore them apart and had them happier for it.

Brendan Gill's intro will give her writing context, helping you see why she wrote the way she did.

I learned from Parker how to take a few minutes and see the complex subtleties and find a story it (read "A Telephone Call" as an example). Her craft is masterful, allowing her wit and sense of social nuance show through.

Fans of Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, and even the short stories of Ernest Hemingway will love her.

I fully recommend this book.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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