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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes -and- But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady Paperback – September 1, 1998
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Up until now, I'd figured that the most ignominious fate that a significant 20th century writer had suffered was that T. S. Eliot will be best remembered for the fact that a book of his poems inspired the musical Cats. Here's a worse one : Anita Loos, author of one of the funniest novels ever written, may be remembered as the author whose book inspired the musical which inspired the music video of Madonna's Material Girl. This after all is a book which while it was being serialized made Harper's Bazaar into a best-selling magazine, went through 45 editions in 13 languages (including Chinese and Russian) upon publication, which Edith Wharton referred to as "the great American novel," which a nearly blind James Joyce chose as his preferred reading during the brief period he was allotted each day, and which won praise from readers as varied as Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, George Santayana, and Benito Mussolini.
Even before she wrote this story, Anita Loos had already established herself as a topflight Hollywood screenwriter, working with the likes of D. W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, and she numbered H. L. Mencken among her many literary friends. In fact, the book is at least in part intended to poke fun at Mencken. Loos had previously noticed, with some amusement, the intellectually snobbish writer's contradictory weakness for ditzy blonde babes.Read more ›
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is the diary of Lorelei Lee, a pretty young flapper originally from Little Rock. Since she has managed to get engaged to a married man, and might be hit with a scandal, Lorelei goes overseas. She cuts a gold-digging swathe through Europe, dazzling wealthy men, seeing the "Eyefull" Tower, and recording thoughts both witty and vapid.
Loos followed up her hit novel with "But Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes." The sequel is the story of Lorelei's travelling buddy Dorothy, as told by Lorelei. Dorothy has led a more colorful life -- she started off in the circus before heading to NYC. There, she became a Ziegfield Follies Girl, and then a "companion" to wealthy men.
Anita Loos's "Gentlemen" books first started when Loos encountered a starlet who had men tripping over themselves to help her with her things. Loos was as pretty, as young, and much smarter, but nobody helped her. What was different? Loos was a brunette, and the starlet was a blonde. You do the math.
Loos had a fun, deft sense of humor. She skewered flappers and/or gold-diggers, wealthy men, and the social mores of the 1920s. She also deliberately litters her books with misspellings and run-on sentences, adding to the feeling of overal ditziness. At the same time, her books are such good light fun that they can be read without taking note of the satire.
"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" gives a wink-nudge look at the flapper era, while giving us the origins of the present-day lite chick-lit genre. Fun, fluffy and amusing.
Lorelei Lee has a very distinctive voice. Her blend of "refined" and ignorant is funny at first, but rather touching as one gets into her head. As is her approach to life: while she cites high ideals, she is utterly pragmatic when it comes to actions, to a point where one can only admire the choices made by "a girl like I".
Her BFF, Dorothy- the brunette- is both more seemingly sensible and cynical, but also makes very poor life choices, especially by Lorelei's standards. Dorothy is a welcome snarky voice, though most of the snark sails right over Lorelei's head.
This edition contains "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes", plus a LOT of interesting back-story about the history of the books and their genesis.
It also has illustrations from an early edition, but unfortunately many of them are very muddy in print; I wish they had been cleaned up more.
These were the inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe movie, which was itself the inspiration for the Madonna "Material Girl" video- in which Madonna channels Lorelei for the dance number, and Dorothy for the context. Nicely done!
VERY highly recommended. This ought to be a taught classic.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'd heard of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and also came to hear a lot about the author Anita Loos, so I decided to read this to see what the fuss was all about. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Talia
Anita Loos's smart & hilarious tale of two flappers quest for a good time, expensive jewelry and rich husbands. Read morePublished 20 months ago by MissElainesMusings
I tried, I really did. But it just didnt keep my attention. It sits there and I just dont pick it up! I dont know that i ever will either. Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by jennifer
I first saw the Marilyn Monroe movie Gentlemen Prefer Blonds as a youth years ago and have a vague recollection of it being whimsical fun but my general memory of the film is... Read morePublished on December 8, 2009 by Chris
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes conjures up images of Marilyn Monroe, golddiggers, blonde jokes, but the reality of Anita Loos' Lorelei Lee is ever so much richer than the stereotype. Read morePublished on March 28, 2009 by Wilf Gehlen
This is one of the funniest books I have ever read -- Bridget Jones before Bridget Jones, and much, much funnier than the film (which isn't bad itself). Read morePublished on February 3, 2009 by Amy Whitaker
If you appreciate wry humor and satire, wonderfully written, this is the book for you. A quick read that never disappoints. Read morePublished on September 11, 2003