Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Friends of Dorothy

"The Portable Dorothy Parker" was the February selection of the Women's Classics Book Group at Women Children First.  I had attended a few sessions of this group many years ago and wanted to get back to it.  This was a good month to start. 

We had a small group but a rich discussion.  Lynn, the group leader, provided everyone a list of selections from the book to read so we would have a base for the evening.  A great idea.  I had not read Dorothy Parker before and the Penguin collection collects quite a bit of her work as well as letters, book reviews and poems.

Dorothy Parker was incredibly talented.  She had a great ear for dialog and she can deliver some zingers.  But reading so many of her stories one after the other, rather than months apart in a literary magazine, revealed similar themes and sadness. 

Great ladies - we can be as free and drunk and miserable as men!  Cheer up, no one wants to hang out with a complainer.  Why keep up this charade of life?  How much this resembled Parker's own life I only know from the introduction to this edition but she did seem to write what she knew and put the spotlight on her own social circles.

I asked if any of the women in the stories we read had a job.  We could only think of the young women in "Mr. Durant".  I also asked if there were any older women in the stories that had aged gracefully.  We could not think of an example.  Perhaps this was Parker's commentary on youth and aging and women.  I did not feel that she was a champion of women.  She seemed to dislike both men and women!

We had other points to our discussion - everything from blogs, to Parker's donation of her estate to the NAACP, to city life and Prohibition.  There is a lot to talk about in this collection.  I think I will re-read some of the stories but not all at once. 

Up next....a weekend of reading?  We will see!  Finally watched the first episode of the new season of "Downton Abbey".  I'll admit I was worried that with all the hype it might not be as good.  Was I wrong! good.  I can't wait to catch up with the current season.

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