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The Portable Dorothy Parker (Penguin…
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The Portable Dorothy Parker (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (original 1944; edition 2006)

by Dorothy Parker, Marion Meade (Editor)

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Title:The Portable Dorothy Parker (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
Authors:Dorothy Parker
Other authors:Marion Meade (Editor)
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The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker (1944)

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» See also 76 mentions

English (17)  Catalan (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
The Audio version of "The Telephone Call" just had me in tears. It was the last story and after hours of snappish and witty fun, BAM, there is this story that I can so relate to told in a voice that sounds so much like mine, lost, in pain, desperate. My God, the best short ever written...at least for any woman that has experienced a break-up or an uncertain relationship. I would love to say that I haven't felt that desperate for a phone call, that I hadn't started making deals with a God that I no longer believe in, or I haven't made deals with myself to wait X number of minutes, but I can't. ( )
  ChewDigest | Sep 12, 2014 |
Once upon a time I had this idea that one should read a book from start to finish, and if one was being particularly through that included the preface and any appendix. However that technique has often left me hanging in one part of a book (really wishing that I was reading another part, farther in) - and if it's a book of collected stories and poems, it's not really vital that you go in order.

I've also begun reading this book more than once and ended up hopping about and only reading bits and pieces. So this time through - and I do intended to finish the whole of it this time (yes, really) - I went straight for the part I was most interested: the reviews of plays and books and other articles. I only wish there were more of these because Parker is such fun as a reviewer. More than once I've read a bit and laughed in agreement. Such as:

p. 420 "...There's only one thing I could wish about the whole play - I do wish they would do something about those Russian names. Owing to the local Russian custom of calling each person sometimes by all of his names, sometimes by only his first three or four, and sometimes by a nickname which has nothing to do with any of the other names, it is difficult for one with my congenital lowness of brow to gather exactly whom they are talking about. I do wish that as long as they are translating the thing, they would go right ahead, while they're at it, and translate Fedor Vasilyevich Protosov and Sergei Dmitrievich Abreskov and Ivan Petrovich Alexandrov into Joe and Harry and Fred."

--Vanity Fair review of Tolstoy's play Redemption, December 1918

And that nicely sums up why I could never finish The Brothers Karamazov - I made the mistake of putting it down for a day and when I tried to pick it up again I was lost and unable to figure out who was who. I probably would have had to keep a cheat sheet of names to properly keep track, and so gave up and moved on to other books.

Here's a later review, to give you another idea of why I turned to these first. Here Parker confesses to be "a confirmed user of Whodunits":

p. 568 "To me, the raveled sleeve of care is never more painlessly knitted up than in an evening alone in a chair snug yet copious, with a good light and an easily held little volume sloppily printed and bound in inexpensive paper. I do not ask much of it - which is just as well, for that is all I get. It does not matter if I guess the killer, and if I happen to discover, along around page 208, that I have read the work before, I attribute the fact not to the less than arresting powers of the author, but to my own lazy memory. I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours. In all reverence I say Heaven bless the Whodunit, the soothing balm on the wound, the cooling hand on the brow, the opiate of the people."

--Book review Of Ellery Queen: The New York Murders, from Esquire, January 1959

The Parker who writes poetry and short stories almost seems a different person. Reading too many of those pieces makes me feel somewhat depressed - or at least feeling a bit too full of the angst of love and loss, or of really horrible people who seem to pop up regularly in her short stories. I'd enjoy her writing more if I could read it all in chronological order and have the reviews and essays as relief. But I do understand the why of the ordering - the first section is how Parker herself grouped her works, and the later was added after her death.

At least if you read all her reviews last you'll be left with the more lively person who's just shared her thoughts on a play or book. That's the Parker I think I like most.
_________________________

[Here I go off on a tangent. Just noting.] When looking up the word mandragora, wikipedia helpfully pushed me over to the page on mandrake - which seems fair because it probably wasn't the demon or the band. Anyway. Under in pop culture this caught my eye:

"...Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday."

Shakespeare: Othello III.iii

Parker was wonderfully well read, so I can't think this is a coincidence. But that's just my guess, seeing that the use of mandragora probably doesn't pop up all that often. Now of course I should go reread Othello and see about the context of that quote. ( )
  bookishbat | Sep 25, 2013 |
I believe I have the book to which this title refers. It is a one-volume 640 page book, published by The Viking Portable Library, copyright 1973, fifth printing June 1975, with an introduction by Brendan Gill and at the end of the volume it contains "Variations on a Theme" by Somerset Maugham, noted to be "from the original introduction." But the title listed here on librarything seems to imply that this is a multiple-volume set "Complete With Two Volumes of Short Stories and Three of Poetry." It is not. The Publishers' Note states that this volume of materials, if traced back far enough, was originally taken from two volumes of short stories and three volumes of poetry. I believe the title here is misleading. Also, if it contained this many volumes, it wouldn't be portable now, would it? ( )
  afinch11 | Aug 27, 2013 |
Dorothy Parker was famous for her satirical wit, a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, and one of the earliest writers for the New Yorker. She was once arrested for protesting the execution of the murderers Sacco and Vanzetti. Later, she pursued screenwriting in Hollywood and was later blacklisted there for her involvement in left-wing politics. She was married three times, twice to the same man; and had four suicide attempts, none successful. After her death, her ashes lay for 21 years on a shelf at a funeral home and then in the office of a Wall Street law firm, before she was finally buried at the headquarters of the NAACP. Parker loved one-liners and word play, and this is a compilation of short stories, magazine articles, letters, interviews, book and theater reviews, and poetry written by Parker over a period of roughly 60 years.

Although Parker deplored the idea of writing “like a woman,” in her short fiction she often focused on themes that women frequently write about. Her short stories tend to focus on the relationships between the sexes, and the differences that arise out of relationships between men and women. She was really good at watching people and listening to them, which is how she can write an entire story in dialogue and still get her message across by implication. Two of my favorite stories among the ones collected here are “Big Blonde,” the story of a young woman’s alcoholic decline (based on personal experience, which makes all the more powerful); and “The Game,” in which a young married couple have a dinner party at which a game (resembling Charades), innocent at first, is played. This last story highlights the fact that there’s a hidden meaning (or multiple meanings) for every action.

But her stories don’t really capture what Dorothy Parker might have been like as a person; for that, you have to look at her other works for that famous, biting wit. In her book reviews, Parker reviews not only the book but the author as well (“Dashiell Hammett is as American as a sawed-off shotgun.”). Even when she’s trying to review other people, Parker is pretty self-deprecatory; so she’ll interject her reviews and articles with personal anecdotes that poke fun at her own age, for example. I love an author who can roll with the punches, so to speak, and someone who can make fun of themselves gets extra points with me. In all, this collection is an impressive representation of the oeuvre of Dorothy Parker’s work, life, and personality. ( )
  Kasthu | Feb 2, 2013 |
How many times have I seen bon mots attributed to Dorothy Parker? I thought I'd enjoy reading more of what she had written. Evidently, she was quite the wit in her day.

Turns out anything she wrote that was witty, I had already read!

I enjoyed a few of her short stories, especially the ones that were written during the War...and guess what?: her husband was serving overseas. The ring of authenticity was, well, to write as she did, authentic.

In a few of the reviews she wrote I think I saw the hint of what made her current "back in the day." Unfortunately, humor doesn't always wear well. Her "letters" were dreadfully boring....not understanding fully the intended audience nor to what she was alluding. Evidently her son suffered from Tuberculosis. The scourge of her day, and becoming one in ours, too.

All in all, it is one of those books where I can say, "I'm glad I read it," but am happy to never need to read it again. A good book to put in the guest room bookcase.... ( )
  kaulsu | Apr 17, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Parkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Farrell, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, BrendanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maugham, W. SomersetIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meade, MarionEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Introduction: The theme of course, is Dorothy Parker.
Introduction: Dorothy Parker's reputation as one of the wittiest women of the twentieth century was made on tart quotes and agile on liners.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039539, Paperback)


The second revision in sixty years, this sublime collection ranges over the verse, stories, essays, and journalism of one of the twentieth century's most quotable authors.

For this new twenty-first-century edition, devoted admirers can be sure to find their favorite verse and stories. But a variety of fresh material has also been added to create a fuller, more authentic picture of her life's work. There are some stories new to the Portable, "Such a Pretty Little Picture," along with a selection of articles written for such disparate publications as Vogue, McCall's, House and Garden, and New Masses. Two of these pieces concern home decorating, a subject not usually associated with Mrs. Parker. At the heart of her serious work lies her political writings-racial, labor, international-and so "Soldiers of the Republic" is joined by reprints of "Not Enough" and "Sophisticated Poetry-And the Hell With It," both of which first appeared in New Masses. "A Dorothy Parker Sampler" blends the sublime and the silly with the terrifying, a sort of tasting menu of verse, stories, essays, political journalism, a speech on writing, plus a catchy off-the-cuff rhyme she never thought to write down.

The introduction of two new sections is intended to provide the richest possible sense of Parker herself. "Self-Portrait" reprints an interview she did in 1956 with The Paris Review, part of a famed ongoing series of conversations ("Writers at Work") that the literary journal conducted with the best of twentieth-century writers. What makes the interviews so interesting is that they were permitted to edit their transcripts before publication, resulting in miniature autobiographies.

"Letters: 1905-1962," which might be subtitled "Mrs. Parker Completely Uncensored," presents correspondence written over the period of a half century, beginning in 1905 when twelve-year-old Dottie wrote her father during a summer vacation on Long Island, and concluding with a 1962 missive from Hollywood describing her fondness for Marilyn Monroe.

A Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition with French flaps, rough front, and luxurious packaging
Features an introduction from Marion Meade and cover illustrations by renowned graphic artist Seth, creator of the comic series Palooka-ville

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The second revision in sixty years, this sublime collection ranges over the verse, stories, essays, and journalism of one of the twentieth century's most quotable authors. There are some stories new to the Portable, "Such a Pretty Little Picture," along with a selection of articles written for such disparate publications as Vogue, McCall's, House and Garden, and New Masses. At the heart of her serious work lies her political writings ? racial, labor, international ? and so "Soldiers of the Republic" is joined by reprints of "Not Enough" and "Sophisticated Poetry ? And the Hell With It," both of which first appeared in New Masses. "A Dorothy Parker Sampler" blends the sublime and the silly with the terrifying, a sort of tasting menu of verse, stories, essays, political journalism, a speech on writing, plus a catchy off-the-cuff rhyme she never thought to write down. "Self-Portrait" reprints an interview she did in 1956 with the Paris Review, part of a famed ongoing series of conversations ("Writers at Work") that the literary journal conducted with the best of twentieth-century writers. What makes the interviews so interesting is that they were permitted to edit their transcripts before publication, resulting in miniature autobiographies. "Letters: 1905-1962," which might be subtitled "Mrs. Parker Completely Uncensored," presents correspondence written over the period of a half century, beginning in 1905 when twelve-year-old Dottie wrote her father during a summer vacation on Long Island, and concluding with a 1962 missive from Hollywood describing her fondness for Marilyn Monroe.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039539, 014118258X

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