Complete Stories

Complete Stories

4.3 11
by Dorothy Parker

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As this complete collection of her short stories demonstrates, Dorothy Parker’s talents extended far beyond brash one-liners and clever rhymes. Her stories not only bring to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick but lay bare the uncertainties and disappointments of ordinary people living ordinary lives.  See more details below


As this complete collection of her short stories demonstrates, Dorothy Parker’s talents extended far beyond brash one-liners and clever rhymes. Her stories not only bring to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick but lay bare the uncertainties and disappointments of ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Perhaps it was a disservice to collect all of Parker's stories in one place. Despite insistence to the contrary in a reasoned but ultimately unconvincing introduction by Regina Barreca, Parker wrote decently about the same things over and over and over. This volume includes 13 stories and nine sketches which were previously uncollected, but they blend right in with the other material on drinking and divorce among those of a certain class. Parker's stories tend to float in the shallow end of the literary pool. It's not that any individual piece is of poor quality, it's just that, collectively, the the sameness becomes unbearable. Her humor, in particular, strikes the same note every time. A quick run-through of several plots exhibits this perfectly: two women insincerely discuss an impending divorce; a couple gets drunk in preparation for becoming teetotalers the next day. The nine sketches included here are more of the same, minus any actual plot. Descriptions such as ``Lloyd wears washable neckties,'' are amusing, but go no further. It is ironic that feminist critics are attempting to resurrect Parker, since her writing makes her disdain for her own sex perfectly clear: she feels free to disparage these women for whom marriage and dinner parties are everything, but she always goes for the easy laugh at their expense rather than explore the larger context that forced them into such rigid roles. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Now remembered almost soley as the lone female member of the New York writers' group known as the Algonquin Round Table, Parker was one of the most popular and published writers of the interwar years whose stories and light verse were eagerly sought by the best magazines. Although widely represented in short story anthologies, Parker's entire corpus of stories has never been collected in a single volume: editor Breese includes 13 stories and nine "sketches" not previously anthologized. Read as a collection, however, the famous sardonic wit becomes too intrusive, and similarities of plot and character are annoyingly apparent. Reliance on heavy social drinking as a staple of her plots is less humorous to Nineties readers, and some of Parker's ideas on the relationship between the sexes are equally dated. Still, many of the stories, such as the often reprinted "Big Blonde," are moving, and the whole volume is an unsettling portrait of the era. For all fiction and research collections.-Shelley Cox, Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale
Donna Seaman
Parker has been subjected to an inordinate amount of disrespectful criticism. The cult of personality and the elevation of gossip over genuine analysis, combined with the tiresome and offensive habit of sexism, has very nearly obscured the importance of her work. This invaluable collection of nearly 50 of her superb stories, some never before collected, will cut right through that fog because Parker is potent. Her precision is unerring, her humor wicked, her anger searing, and her compassion profound. She has a keen sense of the absurd as well as the unjust, and an incredible eye and ear for detail. Regina Barreca, author of "Perfect Husbands (and Other Fairy Tales)", provides a rousing and refreshing introduction to Parker's work, pointing out that what was extraordinary about Parker was her art and her wit, not her much maligned personal life, which, frankly, resembled that of many celebrated writers.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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990 KB
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18 Years

Meet the Author

Dorothy Parker was born in West End, New Jersey, in 1893 and grew up in New York, attending a Catholic convent school and Miss Dana's School in Morristown, New Jersey. In 1916 she sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue, and was subsequently given an editorial position on the magazine, writing captions for fashion photographs and drawings. She then became drama critic of Vanity Fair and the central figure of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table.

Famous for her spoken wit, she showed the same trenchant commentary in her book reviews for The New Yorker and Esquire and in her poems and sketches. Her collection of poems included Not So Deep as a Well and Enough Rope, which became a bestseller; and her collections of stories included Here Lies. She also collaborated with Elmer Rice on a play, Close Harmony and with Arnaud d'Usseau on the play the Ladies of the Corridor. She herself had two Broadway plays written about her and was portrayed as a character in a third. Her cynicism and the concentration of her judgements were famous and she has been closely associated with modern urbane humour.

Her first husband was Edwin Pond Parker II, and although they were divorced some years later, she continued to use his name, which she much preferred to her own of Rothschild. Her second husband was an actor-writer Alan Campbell. They went to Hollywood as a writing team and went through a tempestuous marriage until his death in 1963, when Dorothy Parker returned to New York. She died in 1967.

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.

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