Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Big Blonde" by Dorothy Parker

"Big Blonde" 1929, 15 pages) by Dorothy Parker

The Best of Dorothy Parker?

"Big Blonde" is the third short story I have read by Dorothy Parker (1893 to 1967- USA.)    Prior to this I have read her "Arrangement in Black and White" and "A Telephone Call".      I  enjoyed both of these stories.   Both of these stories are about what seem like silly women whose lives revolve a bit to much about men.    Both are good smart stories.  When I started "Big Blond" (Wikipedia says it is her best known short story-it won the O'Henry Award in 1929 for the best short story of the year) I was expecting more of the same.     I was completely shocked and blown away by "Big Blond".    It was almost like finding out everybody's favorite partying sorority girl who could drink all the guys under the table can write a story to scare the world sober.

Imagine Virginia Woolf showing up on a late night talk show to swap jokes with Charlie Sheen or Elizabeth Bowen with an advise column in Seventeen Magazine.

"Big Blonde" is about Hazel Moore.  (Yes,  Dorothy Parker was a brunette.)   Here  is how she is described:

"Hazel Morse was a large, fair woman of the type that incites some men when they use the word “blonde” to click their tongues and wag their heads roguishly... In her twenties.. she had been employed as a model in a wholesale dress establishment—it was still the day of the big woman, and she was then prettily colored and erect and high-breasted. Her job was not onerous, and she met numbers of men and spent numbers of evenings with them, laughing at their jokes and telling them she loved their neckties. Men liked her, and she took it for granted that the liking of many men was a desirable thing. Popularity seemed to her to be worth all the work that had to be put into its achievement. Men liked you because you were fun, and when they liked you they took you out, and there you were. So, and successfully, she was fun. She was a good sport. Men liked a good sport."

Hazel meets and marries a man whose drinking and late night about town ways amused her.   It was not so funny after they got married.    He got bored with her and she with him.   He left her to move to Detroit and she did not much care.   He gave her enough money for a few months.   There was another big blond living in an apartment across the hall from her who had a lot of men friends and parties and Hazel soon had another admirer.  Then another and another and most all of them were married.   Hazel's job was to be "a good sport" and a big blond.   The story is set in a time when alcohol was illegal in America but only seemed to increase its hold on the people in Hazel's world.    

I do not want to tell any more of the plot of this story.    I think it is a brilliant work.   (I can see how readers who fit the physical description of Hazel might not be so thrilled with it!).     I did wonder as I read it if Parker's description of one of the characters as "a Jew" was a sign of prejudice or just a sign of times.   

If you have not yet read a Dorothy Parker story,I you might start with "A Telephone Call".   If you like that  then go on to "An Arrangement in Black and White" and then read the much better and deeper (and longer) "Big Blond".    I hope to read more of her stories soon.

You can read "Big Blond" HERE.



No comments: