Monday, March 22, 2010

Dorothy Parker - A Turner of Exquisite Phrases

She gets my award for best epitaph:  "Excuse my dust!"

In Constant Reader she wrote of a "Mrs. Smith [who] is so unmistakably the daughter of a hundred Elks.  Let them be dismissed by somebody's phrase (I wish to heaven it were mine) -- [as] 'the sort of people who buy their silver.'"

In a 1957 Esquire piece she wrote: "So I am growing old, a process that goes at gallop even as I sit here, for I find my heart turns tenderly to that yesterday when there were those two demure dashes between the first and fourth letters of the words used with telling infrequency."

In a story "Cousin Larry" she described: "The young woman in the crepe de Chine dress printed all over with little pagodas set amid giant cornflowers flung one knee atop the other and surveyed, with an enviable contentment, the tip of her scrolled green sandal.  Then, in a happy calm, she inspected her finger nails of so thick and glistening a red that it seemed as she but recently had completed tearing an ox apart with her naked hands."

Ms. Parker (born Aug 22, 1893; died June 7, 1967): a true master of phrase-turning.

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