What Fresh Hell Is This?

Twice while visiting New York, I sought out The Algonquin Hotel with the writer Dorothy Parker in mind. TWICE!

I knew this much, that she was an influential writer, that she lived during the roaring 20s–prohibition and such…that she frequented The Algonquin and sat at a round table with the powerful likes of Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, and Edna Ferber. I knew she ended up writing for The New Yorker and that she worked as a critic.

Talk about the tip of the iceberg…

Thankfully, it’s summer. That means more library time.

I picked up The Portable Dorothy Parker and feel like I have been successfully tiptoing around liquid nitrogen, so explosive is Parker’s writing in tone, energy and wit. As unhappy as I believe she was, (four suicide attempts attest), Parker managed to distill her cynicism to sharpened prose. There, on the page, she chose to skewer and dice not only the populace she disdained during the period, but also those of her own kind. She lived life utterly on her terms, resulting in enemies, loyal friends, and a string of husbands. She dared to reflect, through her writing, the odoriferous climate of the time–whether wafting delicious or putrid. I find her work immensely engaging, disturbing, enlightening and often hilarious.

I am so happy to have truly discovered her, only after sitting at her table.


My land is bare of chattering folk;

The clouds are low along the ridges,

And sweet’s the air with curly smoke

From all my burning bridges.


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