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This portable library of short stories, poems and reviews by the author, poet and critic Dorothy Parker was loaned by a friend who attached the following advice: Parker might be best digested one bite at a time. Over the past two months, Ive been doing that, eating lunch and digesting Parkers wit twenty pages at a time.My first impression, which I was proud of myself for making at the time, was that these pieces read like something that would appear in the New Yorker. I soon discovered that Parker was considered instrumental in making the New Yorker into the New Yorker; founded in 1925 by Harold Ross, the magazine published Parkers work irregularly from 1926 to 1955. When I think of the New Yorker short story I think of tofu; healthy and totally lacking in flavor. These droll literary observations of modern living would conceivably need a dash of Larry David or a side order of Jack Handey for me to remember them. It is in this tradition that I recount what Id consider to be the best of Dorothy Parker.-- Arrangement In Black and White. An incessantly annoying party goer insists on being introduced to the guest of honor, a colored singer, revealing her own bigotry in the process.-- The Standard of Living. Two stenographers -- Annabel and Midge -- spend their free afternoons walking Fifth Avenue playing a favorite game: If you someone left you a million dollars and instructed you to spend it on yourself, what would you do? Fantasy money only buys fantasy happiness.-- Mr. Durant. An assistant manager in the credit department of a rubber factory impresses himself by handling a situation with a secretary who reveals shes in trouble in a delicate way. Returning to his family, Mr. Durant reveals his misogamy over a stray dog his children ask to keep.-- Mrs. Hofstadter on Josephine Street. A couple visit an employment agency for a referral on a servant and receive the most enthusiastic recommendation, a man named Horace who arrives at their home with too much enthusiasm for the couple to tolerate.-- Big Blonde. Self-described good sport Hazel Morse decides to settle down in her mid-thirties by accepting a marriage proposal. Discontent and alcohol turns them from lovers to enemies and as the relationship dies, Hazel considers doing likewise. Her maid, Nettie, has other ideas.I enjoyed quite a bit of Parkers poetry as well, particularly her six epithets, Tombstones in the Starlight.III. The Very Rich ManHed have the best, and that was none too good;No barrier could hold, before his terms.He lies below, correct in cypress wood,And entertains the most exclusive worms.Unfortunately, much of what remains in this collection grew tedious. Three of the pieces (The Lovely Leave, A Telephone Call, New York to Detroit) seem like drafts of the same story: a lonely woman waits by the telephone for her man to call her. Parkers women/ Parker can seem hysterical, and not in a screwball, Katharine Hepburn sort of way.Flannery OConnor remains my favorite short story writer, a woman who was truly ahead of her time, lighting Molotov cocktails at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. While I remain haunted by OConnors imagination, I can only say of Parker that she was a fine craftsman of the written word, prodigious and consistent.

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