More Reasons Why Dorothy Parker is the Greatest Ever

January 25, 2009

As you probably know, I like Dorothy Parker. I even named my cat after her.

But you may or may not know that I hate “On the Road.” I think it’s an awful book, with awful writing, that it’s about absolutely nothing, and that it doesn’t deserve 1/100th the respect it gets. And I think the other “great works” of that movement are no better.

Well, recently a brilliant friend found some Studs Terkel interviews on CD, one of which was with Mrs. Parker, from 1959. She had this to say:

Studs Terkel: Chicago was invaded last week by three Beat Generation poets—

Dorothy Parker: Ah yes.

ST: —and would you mind, since you read a great many books, this is part of your job for Esquire, your feeling about seemingly outspoken poets, writers, who represent this.

DP: I don’t know what they’re speaking out about. I know they’re speaking, they’re speaking all the time, as we sit here, at least they’re putting something down on paper—it isn’t writing—but it’s something they’re doing. But I don’t know what they’re so brave about. You read their books, and the description of their lives, it’s so monotonous, the things they do. And I don’t know why they’re so revolutionary, that was all done a long time ago.

ST: So you feel there’s nothing new really that they’re saying.

DP: Nothing at all. The Beat Boys I don’t think are saying anything on Earth except “look at us, aren’t we great.” I don’t think the Beat Generation is worth much worrying about. I should say, oh very soon, in the very near future, they’ll be as forgotten as Mahjong.

If only she’d been right about their being forgotten!

–Toby

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