‘Her reputation as a wit obscures her genuine achievements – short stories that still dazzle and decades of political activism’
Poet, theatre critic, raconteur, philanthropist – Dorothy Parker was all of these and so much more. And while her quotes and one-liners were laugh-out-loud caustic keepers, this selection delves deeper into Parker’s literary repertoire, bringing together the best of her short fiction and poetry in a gorgeous new edition with a binding as dazzling, and illustrations as attention-grabbing, as the words they surround. From droll and pithy to heartfelt and melancholy, the entries have been carefully chosen to show off Parker’s creative flexibility. The order follows no discernible logic; it simply reflects her wonderful writerly train of thought.
Wit has truth in it. Wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.
Bound in cloth printed and blocked with a design by Jamie Keenan
Set in Goudy Old Style with Spartan Bold display
8 integrated black & white illustrations
8¾˝ x 5½˝
A woman in her element in a man’s world
Parker’s effortless quick wit, enviable mastery of the English language and the endurance of her spirit means her work remains widely admired and habitually quoted. A New Yorker through and through, she had the city in the palm of her hand at a time when offices and social institutions still revolved around the old boys’ network. Such was her charm and influence that Parker was a founding member of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table – a group of writers, actors, critics and editors who regularly met in the Pergola Room of the Algonquin Hotel for lunches fuelled by booze and literary banter.
Incredibly, illustrator Helen Smithson has managed to capture the many facets of Parker’s personality in her captivating line drawings. Like Parker herself, the illustrations are more than the sum of their parts; simple black-and-white sketches that offer incredible insight into the woman behind the brash mouth and big personality.
Take me or leave me, or as is the usual order of things, both.
A tortured soul with a razor-sharp tongue
Like many blessed with a creative gift, Parker was also plagued with a predilection for liquor and a descent into dark thoughts that resulted in multiple suicide attempts. Never one to mince her words, even the subject of her own failed demise wasn’t off-limits and she speaks candidly about suicide in her poem Résumé. From her troubled childhood to her catalogue of failed relationships, Parker could make light of any situation with borderline profanity. However, she frequently turned her hand to serious prose and was as likely to use herself as the subject of her outpourings as the other people she encountered.
Introduction Arrangement in Black and White Convalescent Experience The Dark Girl’s Rhyme A Very Short Song The Sexes The Satin Dress Braggart Chant for Dark Hours The Waltz I Know I Have Been Happiest Godspeed Testament De Profundis The Immortals Pictures in the Smoke The Standard of Living Now at Liberty Portrait of the Artist Reuben’s Children Ballade of a Great Weariness A Telephone Call Plea Love Song Interview The Burned Child Here We Are Symptom Recital Sanctuary Song of One of the Girls The Choice Dusk Before Fireworks Comment Incurable The Second Oldest Story Ballade at Thirty-five You Were Perfectly Fine A Pig’s-eye View of Literature Victoria Mortal Enemy Too Bad Story Fable Bohemia Surprise Dilemma
Unfortunate Coincidence Just a Little One The Homebody Partial Comfort Second Love Superfluous Advice The Whistling Girl The Little Hours For a Favourite Granddaughter Theory Vers Démodé From a Letter from Lesbia News Item Horsie Garden-spot Sonnet for the End of a Sequence The Flaw in Paganism Transition Résumé New York to Detroit Purposely Ungrammatical Love Song General Review of the Sex Situation Ultimatum Summary Requiescat Social Note From the Diary of a New York Lady One Perfect Rose Inventory Sonnet on an Alpine Night Words of Comfort to be Scratched on a Mirror Sentiment The Lady’s Reward War Song Thought for a Sunshiny Morning Clothe the Naked Prayer for a New Mother Tombstones in the Starlight For a Sad Lady Indian Summer Faute de Mieux The Lovely Leave Ballade of a Talked-off Ear Prologue to a Saga The Last Question Cousin Larry Big Blonde
ABOUT DOROTHY PARKER
Dorothy Parker was born in New Jersey in 1893. She grew up in Manhattan, attending a Catholic grammar school and afterwards a finishing school. Her literary career began in 1914 when Parker began an editorial job at Vogue, she was 21. In 1917 she went to work at Vanity Fair as the theatre critic but continued to write poems for other magazines and newspapers. As her reputation increased, she became a well-known face among the literary circle of New York, and in 1919 Parker co-founded the Algonquin Round Table writers’ group. Her first poetry collection, Enough Rope (1926), was a bestseller and she followed this with Sunset Gun (1928) and Death and Taxes (1931). Parker’s fiction collection Laments for the Living was published in 1930. Parker wrote numerous screenplays for MGM and Paramount with her second husband Alan Campbell, and continued writing short fiction. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1959 and died in New York in 1967, aged 73.
ABOUT MERVYN HORDER
Mervyn Horder was born in 1910 in London and was the son of the first Baron Horder of Ashford, becoming the second Baron when his father died in 1955. Horder studied at Winchester College and then Trinity College, Cambridge, but also had a keen interest in music that led to him attending the Guildhall School of Music. However, despite his talent as a pianist, Horder followed a career path in publishing. He was chairman of Duckworth from 1948 to 1970, during which time the company published new titles, as well as selling their extensive backlist. He became known as the ‘gentleman publisher’ and was much loved in literary circles. He returned to music after leaving Duckworth’s and composed songs, carols and piano pieces. Horder died aged 86 in 1997.
A beautifully presented collection that celebrates the radical style of a visionary American poet. This edition follows the 1955 text prepared by Thomas H. Johnson, which presents the poems as Dickinson intended.