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Complete Stories

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,425 ratings  ·  172 reviews
As this complete collection of her short stories demonstrates, Dorothy Parker’s talents extended far beyond brash one-liners and clever rhymes. Her stories not only bring to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick but lay bare the uncertainties and disappointments of ordinary people living ordinary lives.
Paperback, 447 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published 1924)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Madeline
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
For a very long time (read: just before finding this book) I wasn't completely sure that Dorothy Parker had ever written anything longer than a quote. I'd always sort of suspected that she was famous for drinking a lot and delivering devastating one-liners on a regular basis.

It was a delightful surprise, therefore, to find this collection and discover that, yes, Dorothy Parker did do a lot of writing - and not just one-liners. Many of these stories are wonderfully sarcastic (the best ones are a
...more
Bloodorange
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: us, stories
These are good, but were meant for magazine publication and reading in homeopathic doses.

Parker clearly likes describing awful people and situations in an ironic, very controlled way, but I don’t think I love it, at least definitely not en masse. Dark humour, drinking humour, sharp social observation – from racism (Arrangement in Black and White, 1927) to social climbers (“The steps in social ascent may be gauged by the terms employed to describe a man's informal evening dress: the progression
...more
Sketchbook
Aug 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Mrs Parker died , age 73, in 1967, on the cusp of Women's Lib. Rebecca Barreca, in an excellent intro, notes that her stories depict the effects of economical and spiritual poverty upon vulnerable women who received no education about the "real world" beyond fables grazing love & marriage - fables reflecting the '20s. Even though people don't change (much), the Parker viewpoint , I find, represents past decades, which is why George S Kaufman said, "Satire is what closes on Saturday night." Her w ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, five-stars, gilmore, humor
These stories are just incredible! I chose audio and the female narrator is superb. Although some of the language is dated, the situations are spot-on current. Just ageless tales. I especially enjoy the one-sided conversations.
Jen
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women, feminists, cool men
Whew! I'm a born-again Parker fan. This collection of short stories is the editor's attempt to prove she deserves critical acclaim and inclusion in the male-centric literary canon, and I, for one, am sold!

Most of the included stories were written in the 1920s-40s, and they are an illuminating peek at the prevailing pretensions of the time - she skewers societal affectations as well as the battle between the sexes (and the unfortunate lack of open communication between them). "Too Bad," for examp
...more
Nancy
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Amusing, certainly, and the stories are evocative of their time, but they tend to the repetitive and the snide, somewhat sour humor grates eventually.
Miriam
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So deliciously bitter. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Very funny, very mean. I read the intro last, and it had something to say that I had kind of started thinking about myself: people ("small" or "narrow"-minded critics) consider Parker's stories to be about "small" or "narrow" topics, but that's almost beside the point. They're about a small social world and a limited number of people, but they're about so much more. Like self-delusion and cruelty and passive-aggression and superficiality masqueradin ...more
Will Mego
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Parker Fans, people who are too hopeful, glass-half-empty people.
I was oddly disappointed in this. Not in the quality of the writing, which is superb. The author sets out to accomplish a task, and the technique of writing is bent and twisted to her will, achieving her vision exactly as her mind's eye must have seen it. My complaint is simply with her intended effect. I didn't enjoy it.

So it's great writing, but I didn't care for the message. She was such a profoundly unhappy person, tormented by life's whims, being a women in the times she lived, the spectre
...more
H. P. Reed
Ms. Parker's work, whether essays, stories or poetry are humor born of sadness, filled with sarcasm and pity for the human condition. "Big Blonde" shows us how women who made bad choices about men may have lived in the restrictive 1930's, but also calls to mind some of the bad choices celebrities make so messily in public today. Parker makes even the very private hell of a woman waiting for a man's telephone call both snarkily funny and shamingly familiar. Unlike James Thurber, Ms. Parker breath ...more
Vanessa
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
pithy vignettes of obnoxious people. becomes tedious if you read the stories together as a string--you are introduced to dolt after wanker, know them for 5 minutes, and then move on to the next daft character. it has the collective effect of being at a wretched cocktail party where you want to put all the guests on mute.
carolina ☾
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
Anna Kander
So far, I've only read "Big Blonde."
Kirsten
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
[1924] Really enjoyed her stories. Loved her writing - smart, edgy, funny. Much of it felt very modern. The relationships, feelings, conversations that she explored made me feel that not much has changed in the last (almost) hundred years. Enjoyed it more for having read a few stories at a time, rather than all at once.
Erica
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Dorothy Parker is a genius. I had thought she was just a brilliant person with a tart tongue, but she can really write.

She is something of a modern Jane Austen, skewering the hypocrisy of all and sundry, usually using their own words. The humor can be quite dry, but Ms Parker also demonstrates a deep and warm sympathy for some of her unfortunate characters (such as the unattractive nurse who is so judged on her appearance). From "Such A Pretty Picture," she says of her industrious main character
...more
Gordon
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Dorothy Parker is one of the best writers I've ever read. She picks her words deliberately, choosing people and situations that will most effectively pull apart any positive construction of human relationships that you've ever built.

At her least harmful ("The Waltz") she entertainingly teases and pokes fun, a pastime at which she excels. However, twenty minutes of reading her in a sitting consistently made me despair of all society.
Dallisonam
Dec 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I started reading this book at random and was drawn in by the wit and insight into the psychology of the chronically pretentious. The story that captured my interest was about an inane woman who had just returned from a 3 week trip to France and kept "accidentally" saying words in French, because she had apparently forgotten English, her native language. I like the cynical depictions of the completely fake America in the 50s and 60s, but her stories got a little redundant after a while.
V.
Aug 25, 2009 added it
I started reading this a couple of years ago, but put it down for reasons I can't recall. The stories are such products of their time; it's difficult to relate to them. But Parker's snarkiness transcend any era. Working on plowing through tot eh end this time 'round ...
George K. Ilsley
Oh Dorothy Parker how I wish you could be my spirit animal! Some of these pieces are just as sharp and biting as they were 100 years ago. Perfectly droll.
This collection is meant to be savoured, rather than gulped.
Andrew Fairweather
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection is a portrait of a writer who was so damn capable--this is a *writer* who can *write*, who was *meant* to, damn it! Parker's words, while at times reeking of Jazz Age, Depression Era, War-Time, and Cold War stylings as the decades roll by, capture something uniquely American coupled with a crass elitism played by characters who seem to be well aware of the meaninglessness of their lives, yet find nothing else worth living for.

It is fascinating to read this chronologically arrange
...more
Deborah
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Parker's characters are primarily New Yorkers and upper or upper-middle class. They are sad, lonely, and bored. They don't know how to really communicate with others and this causes many of the problems in the stories.

That being said, Parker resists creating caricatures. The people in these stories are real and in some cases I feel like I know people just like them. Despite the dating of some of the events in the stories, these people still exists in the same form. That makes these stories etern
...more
Rachel
Dec 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
The woman who wrote the introduction to this collection said that many find her wit wonderful; those who find it off putting are those that Parker wouldn't have wanted to associate with in the first place. I used that as a whip to force myself to read more of these, and then I remembered: I don't have to like everybody, and they don't have to like me.

First of all, reading her stories as a collected work, here is a summation:

(On alcohol)
Her "You were so drunk last night; you shouldn't drink anymo
...more
Robin
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Never having read Dorothy Parker, I decided the only thing to do was to read her work...her entire short story collection, because that's how I roll. It was a lot of Dorothy Parker, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dorothy Parker's writing is brilliantly funny and, quite frankly, just brilliant. Her sharp social comedy skewers the social world from the Prohibition Era to post-WWII. She mocks greed, interactions between the sexes, and, the mean and dirty ways of, what we now term, "frenemi ...more
T.J.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cynics, pessimists, your annoying romantic friends, feminists, postmodern folk
Despite my romantic nature, I am also a cynic at heart. Behind the fuzzy warmth of emotional connection and romantic bliss I generally sense or anticipate wretched heartbreak. So does the Divine Ms. Parker, who writes with acerbic wit and uncharacteristic openness the foibles of love, romance, liberalism, anti-racism, and patriarchy.

Her short stories are quite well-done, but need to not be all read at once; they get wearing if taken in all one go. Her insights on 1920's white liberals are stunni
...more
Paul
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dorothy Parker is one of the greatly underrated authors of the twentieth century. During the same time that Scott Fitzgerald was writing about the very rich he stood in awe of, Parker was writing hilariously scathing portraits of these same people. It seems hard to believe the two were writing about the same society at the same time.

These stories are purely delightful and often hilarious.

I would highly recommend this book.
Sarah
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Anyone looking to read something classic, but lighter than most of the vastly serious greats needs to pick up Dorothy Parker's short stories. Often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking and just about always enjoyable her stories make a quick read to breeze through on the beach, the subway or on a lunch break.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Another book I'm never going to finish reading in one session. Parker's stories are clever enough, but not exactly great... and they're mainly all the same. They get very monotonous if attempted all at once. I'll go back to this from time to time and eventually get to the end... though it may take me the rest of my life.
DeMisty Bellinger
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-centered
Fun, witty, feminist, and antiracist, Parker's collection paints a candid and comical view of New York in her time. Although the writing is enjoyable, it is at times very timely, and seems stuck in her New York. Because of this, I wouldn't know where to place it in today's readership except as historical. Hope that makes sense.
Kathleen
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Dorothy Parker was quite adroit at writing stories about a certain class of people, frequently struggling with the same things - divorce, drink, etc. The problem with this collection is that these people are quite wearying, so that one big tome filled with them is exhausting. I would recommend reading this, but not one story after another. You simply lose patience with the characters.
Robin
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best short stories written. Although she writes between the 1920's-1940's, the stories are refreshingly honest and satyrical, which was extremely bold for a female writer in that time period.
Sterlingcindysu
Feb 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Stories about rich people in the '20s & 30's. She thought the "real" world was the one outside of love & marriage. ...more
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Dorothy Parker was an American writer, poet and critic best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles. From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin
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