Were she still alive, today would have been Dorothy Parker’s 123rd birthday. A poet, short story writer, literary critic, and screenwriter, she is best remembered for her wit. In her honour, I thought I’d list my Top Ten:
“Don't look at me in that tone of voice.”
“You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.”
"I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours."
“Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.”
“Never complain, never explain.”
“A hangover is the wrath of grapes.”
“Their pooled emotions wouldn’t fill a teaspoon.”
“This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”
“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”
“What fresh hell is this?”
Then there are the ones I used when teaching creative writing classes:
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
“Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.”
“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”
“I think that the direction in which a writer should look is around.”
“I hate writing, I love having written.”
And I wish I could write book reviews as she did:
"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force."
"He is beyond question a writer of power; and his power lies in his ability to make sex so thoroughly, graphically and aggressively unattractive that one is fairly shaken to ponder how little one has been missing."
"I find her anecdotes more efficacious than sheep-counting, rain on a tin roof, or alanol tablets . . . you will find me and Morpheus, off in the corner, necking."
"I know that an author must be brave enough to chop away clinging tentacles of good taste for the sake of a great work. But this is no great work, you see."
“The plot is so tired that even this reviewer, who in infancy was let drop by a nurse with the result that she has ever since been mystified by amateur coin tricks, was able to guess the identity of the murderer from the middle of the book.”