you never know
I've been curious about Dorothy Parker for years. Obviously not curious enough to go to the library, but curious enough to pick up this old book when I saw it for 75 cents. I have to say I don't get it. This thing she does where she captures the redundant whine of a spoiled socialite - I guess it's funny if you think spoiled socialites are funny. I found it boring and downright irritating. In fairness to Ms. Parker, I find the fact that nearly everyone in short stories from her era is a socialite irritating. They all seem to have servants that take care of the mundane chores of life, and they all talk and act as if it's perfectly natural and expected. But at least Thurber and Benchley aren't snotty about it. Parker seems very snotty to me, and her humor reminds me of the nasty insulting quips of Raymond's father on Everybody Loves Raymond.
So tell me, somebody: Is this it? Is this book pretty much what you get from Dorothy Parker? Or was I unlucky enough to snag the worst of her books?
While I was reading After Such Pleasures and wondering what is the big deal a few weeks ago, Crazy Salad showed up in the free pile at work. "Ugh, feminist essays by Nora Ephron!" was what I thought as I kept walking, leaving the book behind.
A couple of weeks after that, Crazy Salad appeared in the OTHER free pile in another part of the building. Obviously whoever grabbed it from the first pile had read it and recycled it. This time as I was walking by and noticing it, I saw the little "Dorothy Parker" in the cover blurbs, so I took it to read what Nora E had to say about Dorothy P.
Turns out Nora E idolized Dorothy P in her youth, and wanted to grow up and be DP, the talk of the town, the Algonquin Glass Ceiling Smasher. As she grew older she realized her ambition was run-of-the-mill, and she learned that she "had managed to keep myself from what anyone who has read a line about her or by her should have known, which was simply that Dorothy Parker had not been terribly good at being Dorothy Parker either." And that, in reality, being at the Algonquin Round Table was actually a dreadful bore (which I always suspected).
In the end, Nora Ephron still admires Dorothy Parker, but no longer worships at the altar of the Legend of Dorothy Parker. Myself, I am disappointed to discover that Parker is no Benchley, but surprised to find that the old articles and essays of Nora Ephron are quite interesting and entertaining.