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Julian Meynell's Books

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The Portable Dorothy Parker

The Portable Dorothy Parker - Brendan Gill, Dorothy Parker Dorothy Parker is more interesting as a person than as a writer. The book contains short stories, poems and nonfiction pieces. My favorite part are the book reviews. Parker is an impeccable judge of literary value, although I do not always agree with her interpretations. Her writing about literature is lively, personable and funny. In her poetry she is at her best when she is being humorous. Her short stories are good, but not great. They can be repetitive and she backs away from going to places that it is clear that she wants to write about. Her stories tend to focus on miscommunication between urban couples, but she prefers to explore stereotypes.

In general her writing tends to nod in the direction of deeper things, but she will not generally go there. She writes about suicidal ideation as if it were a hat that she tries on when the mood strikes her. One gets the feeling that it is an affectation and that she is not really struggling with it. Her writing is lively and funny, but what emerges are not so much the people that she writes about as her own character.

There is something tragic about Dorothy Parker. One continually gets the feeling that she is yearning for deeper things, but that in the end she is afraid to go to those places. She yearns for both a more authentic writing style and a more authentic life, but she is clearly afraid of it and backs away from it. It makes her fascinating, but one gets the feeling that she was tortured by her own fears of reaching out for something more and then failing and as a result she always refused to reach out.

A good writer and a fascinating person. Worth reading, but because of the repetitiveness, I broke up this book with other books.