Mrs. Parker and her razor sharp wit
I don’t remember how or when I became aware of writer Dorothy Parker. I don’t even remember reading anything by her. I did, however, read something about the writer on Vanity Fair. Perhaps I discovered her back when I was reading about these literary groupings in the past (Beatniks, Angry Young Men, Bloomsbury Group, etc.). And of course I did try to watch Alan Parker’s Dorothy Parker and the Vicious Circle but Jennifer Jason Leigh was mumbling her lines and if one is portraying a woman famous for her wit we, the viewers, should understand what she’s saying, tama ba? I came across this interview with Dorothy Parker today on Paris Review and I thought it was funny, entertaining and the woman makes so much sense. She’s such a character that she jumps right off the page (or screen or whatever). And yes, if this interview is any proof, her wit remained razor sharp even after she had left the Algonquin Round Table.
On being expelled from convent school:
“But as for helping me in the outside world, the convent taught me only that if you spit on a pencil eraser it will erase ink. And I remember the smell of oilcloth, the smell of nuns’ garb. I was fired from there, finally, for a lot of things, among them my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was spontaneous combustion.”
On living comfortably while being a writer:
“The people who lived and wrote well in the twenties were comfortable and easy living. They were able to find stories and novels, and good ones, in conflicts that came out of two million dollars a year, not a garret. As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it. At the moment, however, I like to think of Maurice Baring’s remark: “If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it.” I realize that’s not much help when the wolf comes scratching at the door, but it’s a comfort.”