Christopher Reilly's Thoughts on the Infamous Dorothy Parker and Her Quotes
Today's Notes and Quotes commentary is brought to you by Christopher Reilly, St. Louis based writer and Creative, whose featured pieces make their way into must have publications like Alive magazine. While he has a serious side professionally, he is sure to make you laugh despite yourself, both in person and on his personal blog: The Crusty Curmudgeon (check out his links at the end of the article).
Without further ado, here's a fascinating piece Chris wrote for us on Dorothy Parker.
Ah, Dorothy Parker. She didn't have a happy childhood you know, but mercilessly displayed her biting wit and criticism from the time she was very young. Her father remarried when Dorothy was seven, two years after her mother's death, and she so disliked the woman that she refused to call her “mother” or “stepmother,” and instead referred to her forever as “the housemaid.” Later in Catholic elementary school she was expelled when—according to Parker—she characterized the immaculate conception as “spontaneous combustion.”
She looked at the world sideways, more spectator than participant, and her unique view would serve her well. Her writing took almost every form: poetry, short stories, critiques, satire, and film scripts, even garnering two Academy Award nominations, one of them as co-writer of A Star is Born. Her legendary years began with a fill-in writing gig in the New Yorker, which led to the Algonquin Round Table, and then her work was everywhere; Vanity Fair, Vogue, and lots more. Her wit was keen; a Parker wisecrack came faster than a serpent's deadly tongue.
Parker's quotes have lost none of their relevancy, but more than that, they are somehow perfect for modern times and social media, where a pithy quip makes a perfect picture to pass around on Facebook. Parkers words were memes before memes existed. They are funny, clever, and quite often deeper than they appear, and some of them, like this one, are structured perfectly. But we needn't over-analyze Parker or her words or her form or her life. We only need to smile at her cleverness and insight, and daydream, yes, of Algonquin Round Tables. - Christopher Reilly