Dorothy Parker

“The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.” -Dorothy Parker

I very often judge a book by its cover, sometimes with bad, sometimes with good results. One very good instance happened in my younger and more impressionable days when I came across The Portable Dorothy Parker at a bookstore. I had never heard of Dorothy Parker, but the artwork and author’s biography told in pictures made it a must-purchase book. I took it home and laughed for 656 pages.

Dorothy Parker was a humorist, a writer of reviews (“Theodore Dreiser / Should ought to write nicer”), short stories (such as this little one), and pithy poetry (“Men seldom make passes. / At girls who wear glasses”). She is, even today, endlessly quotable and hilariously relevant. A master of one-liners, Parker is one of my favorite writers, one that I go back to when I am feeling down or in a reading rut. She never fails to cheer one up.

I like to think that we all have our biases when it comes to writers, that we feel as if we know them well from what we have read. Dorothy Parker falls under this category for me, along with Jane Austen and George Eliot, Sylvia Plath and Dorothy L. Sayers. They are all writers that I came across by what feels like kismet in a bookstore or library, a chance meeting which altered my life for the better. Books can have that impact. As an introvert who cherishes my time spent alone, I have nonetheless filled my free time with the voices of women who came before me, those who wrote books that speak to who I am and who I want to become.

What characterizes Dorothy Parker’s writing style is her voice. In every line, in every word, she conveys to the reader an immediate sense of a past time. Yet, she does it in such a way that it does not feel dated. She is funny, and she knows that she is funny. It is like spending time with a friend who can tell joke after joke, one as hilarious as the next. She seems to be telling us not to take ourselves too seriously. It is easy to fall into complaining, of seeing only the dark and dismal in the world, but there’s a great deal of the ridiculous too, so we might as well sit back and watch and amuse ourselves.

Oh, and I want a horse too. Just a little one, darling.