Dorothy Parker is a flippin’ hoot. She is hilarious. This was a great way to enjoy her work, too: I enjoyed the variety of narrators, with Cynthia Nixon (yes, of Sex and the City) and Alfre Woodard being my favorites. But they were all great.
This is a collection of Parker’s short stories, mostly, with a few reviews and journalism pieces thrown in. The narrators bring different tones to each piece, which was a great touch. Parker has a distinctive sense of humor: wry, dry, tongue-in-cheek, a little bit dirty here and there, decidedly satirical. She pokes fun at the women of her era (mid-twentieth century) and their ambitions and affectations; her own sex comes under by far the harshest criticism in this collection, at least overtly. But I think, too, that there is a more subtle criticism of society in general hidden in there.
I struggle a little bit when reviewing collections; I don’t want to get into plot summaries of all the component parts, but here are a few for you… The opening story, Big Blonde is both funny and full of pathos; Dusk Before Fireworks excoriates a jealous girlfriend (although her ladies’ man boyfriend doesn’t come out smelling too nicely either). But the One on the Right tickled me to no end – I only regret that it was so short! Pathos, I suppose, is a theme here, because Horsie was almost painful. Just a Little One is an amusing story set in a speakeasy; Cousin Larry and The Game both deal with infidelity again. The Bolt Behind the Blue examines a hypocritical and poisonous “friendship” between two women of different social standings. And these are but a few of the included pieces.
You must experience Dorothy Parker for yourself. This is a great selection, and I hope to get my hands on more. Sad, but oh so funny, too.