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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dorothy Parker-Three Short Stories-

"Travelogue" (1928, 4 pages)
"The Last Tea" (1933, 5 pages)
"You Were Perfectly Fine" (1935, 4 pages)

From the Pen of Dorothy Parker
Three Smart Funny Stories

""It's a funny thing about me," she said. "It just makes me feel sort of sick to see a girl drink. It's just something in me, I guess. I don't mind a man so much, but it makes me feel perfectly terrible to see a girl get intoxicated. It's just the way I am, I suppose."- from "The Last Tea"

I have now read and very much enjoyed six short stories by Dorothy Parker (1893 to 1967-USA)  Parker may have been born in new Jersey but she was not a bridges and tunnels person and for sure not a Jersey Shores Girl.    She came to epitomize New York City , sophisticated, smart and witty, given to late nights and serious drinking and not above laughing at people who seem a bit backwards to her.    (There is a bit of background information on her in this post)

Of the five stories I have read (The exception being "Big Blond" which so far I see as her only truly great story) they all sort of follow a pattern.   Two people are talking to each other.   One of the people does most of the talking and they are the one who has the least of value to say.    That speaker could by an uncharitable person be described as babbling on while not hearing a thing the other person is saying.   

"Travelogue" is about a man who has just returned from a long trip to the Middle East and his female friend  who is very interested in hearing about it, or so it seems.   She asks such astute questions as "do they have Arabs there?".   She will ask the man a question and then immediately say what she thinks the answer must be.   She also tells the man what she things her husband (or boyfriend) would think the answer is.   Then she tells the man not to be surprised when he hears she has left on a long trip to the middle east herself!   The woman leaves the conversation thinking she has learned a lot about the middle east when in fact she learned nothing at all.

"You Were Perfectly Fine" fits the same pattern.   One person is talking on and on and you quickly learn they do not have very good listening skills.    Drinking plays a big role in the stories of Parker (as it did in her life) and this story is about a conversation between a husband and wife (or some sort of relationship) about how the man acted at a party the night before.    He fears he might have made a fool of himself due to heavy drinking (it sounds like they have had this conversation numerous times) and offended some of the people at the party.    The man asks the woman if he was out of line and she tells him over and over "You were perfectly fine" while describing his really rude and drunken actions.   What makes the story fun is the descriptions of the crazy behavior of the man followed by his wife telling him "You Were Perfectly Fine".

" The Last Tea" is set in a cafe where a man and a woman are keeping a date they made the night before at a party.    It is very much about drinking.     As I said before, drinking is very important in the stories of Parker.    Not drinking at all marks you out as a bore, too much a clown.    The story is about their conversations on their hangovers.  

All three of the stories can be read HERE.

Parker's attitude to other women is hard to set out in a brief space.   I can hear her and her female characters saying "all of my friends are men".  

All these stories are fun and easy to read.  

Mel u


Unknown said...

I guess I don't know enough about her to say if you are right or not, but I can see her saying "all of my friends are men." Have you read any of her essays or reviews? Those are also a lot of fun and can be found in most collections of her work.

Mel u said...

C. B. James-I have read only six of her short stories-I would love to read more or her work one day-thanks for stopping by

Jo K said...

I might check these short stories out. Thanks for stooping by my blog.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I don't know much about Dorothy Parker, other than she was considered one of only three truly witty people of the twentieth century by some publication (the others were oscar wilde and winston churchill). And that she's credited (though it may be apocryphal) with the ditty "I love to drink a martini, two at the very most. Three, I'm under the table. Four, I'm under my host."

Where should I start--of the ones you've read, which is the best, most quintessential Parker?

Mel u said...

As the crowe flies and reads-the best Parker short story is considered to be "Big Blond"-I would say start with her probably most read story "The Telephone Call", then "An Arrangement in Black and White" then, saving "Big Blond" for last, the other three.

ds said...

Ah, my dear friend Ms. Parker. Do read her essays & reviews; they are as sharp as her stories and as much fun. Her gift for irony is unsurpassed, I think.

Mel u said...

Ds-so far I have read only six short stories-I will have to buy the Portable Dorothy Parker one of these days!