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  • Ryanne Harper

Ryanne's Recommendation

Dorothy Parker's birthday was this past Wednesday. Born in 1893, Dorothy was a little ahead of her time. She was smart, quick-witted, and blunt. Things that ladies, at the time, were not supposed to be. Parker is best known for her witty quips and one-liners, one of my favorite being, "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity"; she was also an accomplished poet, an author of short stories and screenplays, a literary critic, and a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. This in particular set her apart from other writers at the time because she was the only woman in the original group.

Though her literary accomplishments are something to be admired, I find her involvement in politics and the NAACP the most interesting thing about Dorothy Parker. She was successful; it would have been easy for her to turn a blind eye to injustices, but that wasn't Dorothy's style. When she died of a heart attack in 1967, her will was discovered. She'd left her entire estate to Martin Luther King Jr. Following his death a year later, his family bequeathed the estate to the NAACP. Her will was contested and, as a result, her ashes were stored in a series of unlikely, and unceremonious, locations, including her lawyer's filing cabinet. While morbid, I think Dorothy Parker would find this hilarious. In 1988, the NAACP claimed her remains and they are now housed in a memorial outside their Baltimore headquarters. They did, however, expand on the epitaph she wrote for herself, "Excuse my dust" in exchange for something much more eloquent and fitting, though not as funny.

Dorothy Parker, though no longer with us, continues to inspire. Her likeness shows up in pop culture all the time; as recently as a few months ago, the Miz Cracker portrayed her beautifully on season ten of RuPaul's Drag Race.

So, in honor of Dorothy, today's recommendation is the updated version of The Portable Dorothy Parker edited by Marion Meade. It contains three parts; part one having been arranged by Dorothy Parker herself. The other two sections were compiled and arranged after her death in 1967. This collection includes short stories, poems, letter, and pieces she wrote for The New Yorker.

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