Too Fucking Busy, or Vice Versa!


How can you not love a woman who responds with the title of this week's post to a letter from an editor reminding her that she’d missed yet another story deadline? And this is only one in a vast collection of brilliant quips the diminutive Mrs. Dorothy Parker is famous for.

She is, without a doubt, my favorite writer in all of history (or at least in all the works I have read). It is not just her stories that I find poignant and insightful, I love the biting satire of her poetry in spite of its simplistic form. I adore her scathing theatrical reviews, and her one-liners are some of the very best in comedic history. She was the Tina Fey of her generation and then some. Don’t believe me? The title of this blog post is all the funnier knowing Mrs. Parker was on her honeymoon when she wrote her one-sentence response. Seriously, does quick-witted humor get any better than that? Move over Groucho Marx, WC Fields and Milton Berle.

But it isn’t just Dorothy Parker’s work-product that I find so remarkably impressive, it’s the person she was beneath the self-crafted persona she presented to the world. Despite trying for most of her life to be the cynical, hard-drinking, superficial socialite she became celebrated as, she was a passionate social justice reformer, fighting for the rights of the downtrodden, regardless of any potential consequences. She was not only arrested for protesting the arrest of Italian immigrants for a murder they didn’t commit, she was on the famous Hollywood Blacklist for being a communist sympathizer. She quite literally put her money where her mouth (and, as it happened, the rest of her body was) at the end of her life. She left her entire estate and all future royalties from her works to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After his assassination, her estate transferred to the NAACP.

So, what prompted me to once again write about my literary crush? Well, last week I promised I was going into seclusion and not emerging until another two short stories had been birthed. Translation: I went on what turned out to be a rather crappy cruise and refused to pay the exorbitant fee charged for Wi-Fi service. Laptop and six novels in hand, I embarked with terrific aspirations. Except with the money saved on Wi-Fi, we purchased the unlimited beverage package. Needless to say, one too many Mai Tai’s and a fun little read later I disembarked short story-less with my head hung in shame. But the book I read was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Ellen Meister’s Dorothy Parker Drank Here, which is actually a prequel to her Farewell, Dorothy Parker, (I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m rather glad I read it in this order), brings the feisty Mrs. Parker back to life post 9/11 to help another writer or two discover a few home truths. Meister does an excellent job at recreating Dottie, as she was known to her friends; even if only in the form of the caricature most people recognize these days. Not that I’m trying to disparage Ms. Meister’s novel. It’s just I’m a full-blown Dorothy Parker (née Rothschild) and I quote, “No dear, not one of “the” Rothschilds,” geek. Seriously…. I have a dog called Dorothy Barker. It doesn't get any geekier than that! (#dorothyparkersociety.com)

You don’t have to be a Dottie fanatic to enjoy the book, but as the Grand Dame herself might have said, “It would be rather more darling if you are!” Seriously, the book is r-e-a-l-l-y good, so give it a whirl and see why she is so adored for being as bitter sweet as the whiskey sours she used to swig!

As for those two short stories? Of all the reasons I have such an affinity for Mrs. P. perhaps this is the closest to my heart. Writing is just so brutally hard. As she said so perfectly, (probably over a large G & T), “I hate writing. [But] I love having written.” That being said, watch this space!

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