Yesterday, desperate for the company of someone as sour as myself, I pulled Dorothy Parker down of the shelf. I read through her poetry and part of "A Telephone Call." I was looking for something which I failed to find. But that really didn't matter. I found a few other things I needed to find. Dorothy Parker's wit and disgust can lift me at times and make me feel less alone. She is as kindred a spirit for me as Lovecraft. She'd probably disagree. I expect she'd hate me entirely. But that seems right, too.
I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I have to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me anymore.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men....
I'm due to fall in love again.
In 1973, Brendan Gill wrote of Dorothy Parker:
There are writers who die to the world long before they are dead, and if this is sometimes by choice, more often it is a fate imposed on them by others and not easily dealt with. A writer enjoys a vogue, and, the vogue having passed, either he consents to endure the obscurity into which he has been thrust or he struggles against it in vain, with a bitterness that tends to increase as his powers diminish. No matter how well or badly he behaves, the result is the same. If the work is of a certain quality, it survives the passing of the vogue, but the maker of the work no longer effectually exists. Even though he goes on writing, he dwells in a limbo of the half-forgotten, and his obituary notices are read with a flippant, unthinking incredulity: who would have guessed that the tattered old teller of tales had had it in him to hang on so fiercely? What on earth had he been waiting for? Hoping for? Dreading?
In 1997, Poppy and I spent a few days at the Algonquin Hotel, just before it was remodled and the prices jacked up so high that no decent writer would ever again be able to afford a room there. We drank sidecars and imagined ourselves members of some latter-day Round Table. It was wholly pretentious, of course, but then so were the members of the Algonquin Round Table. Or, rather, they exist now so utterly in another time and place, so lost and removed from us in every sense, that we can only perceive pretension.
That was the year before Silk was published, thirty years after Dorothy Parker's possibly belated death.
Into love and out again,
Thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen--
Well and bitterly I know
All the songs were ever sung,
All the words were ever said.
Could it be, when I was young,
Someone dropped me on my head?
Gill writes that Dorothy Parker "was given to making reckless remarks..." I can't help but find that admirable.
The nightmares were bad again last night. I thought the rain would help me sleep, but I suspect the wind conspired against it; I just hope we don't lose power today.
Okay. That's enough for now.