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Tag: Dorothy Parker

Storm coming

Friday, 22 September, 2017 0 Comments

Surf's up

“They sicken of the calm who know the storm.” — Dorothy Parker


“This is no way a dreadful book.”

Wednesday, 14 September, 2016 0 Comments

Truman Capote is supposed to have dismissed, immortally, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road by saying: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” Dorothy Parker was typically acidic in spurning Lucius Beebe’s Shoot if You Must: “This must be a gift book. That is to say, a book which you wouldn’t take on any other terms.” And the old master of the put down, Mark Twain, put Henry James down thus: “Once you’ve put one of his books down, you simply can’t pick it up again.”

The diss is a staple of the reviewing industry and Lionel Shriver added to the lore in the FT Weekend section with a one-sentence appraisal of Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney. She wrote: “This is no way a dreadful book.” Ouch. ‘Nuff said.

Bright, Precious Days


Dorothy Parker and the passionate Freudian

Sunday, 7 June, 2015 0 Comments

Dorothy Parker When times were more Hobbesian, poets appreciated the meaning of the Latin aphorism carpe diem (“seize the day”). They knew that life could be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” so they urged their readers to make the best of it. Christopher Marlowe’s carpe diem poem, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, inspired a famous response by Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd, and 400 years later Dorothy Parker wrote a parody titled The Passionate Freudian to His Love.

The delightfully acidic Parker, who said things like “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone,” and “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think,” died on this day in 1967.

The Passionate Freudian to His Love

Only name the day, and we’ll fly away
In the face of old traditions,
To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot,
Where we’ll park our inhibitions.
Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies
As it psychoanalyzes,
And when once you glean what your fantasies mean
Life will hold no more surprises.
When you’ve told your love what you’re thinking of
Things will be much more informal;
Through a sunlit land we’ll go hand-in-hand,
Drifting gently back to normal.

While the pale moon gleams, we will dream sweet dreams,
And I’ll win your admiration,
For it’s only fair to admit I’m there
With a mean interpretation.
In the sunrise glow we will whisper low
Of the scenes our dreams have painted,
And when you’re advised what they symbolized
We’ll begin to feel acquainted.
So we’ll gaily float in a slumber boat
Where subconscious waves dash wildly;
In the stars’ soft light, we will say good-night—
And “good-night!” will put it mildly.

Our desires shall be from repressions free—
As it’s only right to treat them.
To your ego’s whims I will sing sweet hymns,
And ad libido repeat them.
With your hand in mine, idly we’ll recline
Amid bowers of neuroses,
While the sun seeks rest in the great red west
We will sit and match psychoses.
So come dwell a while on that distant isle
In the brilliant tropic weather;
Where a Freud in need is a Freud indeed,
We’ll always be Jung together.

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)