My Book World
To Dorothy Parker fans this work may seem repetitive or reductive, but Day’s book does a credible job serving as an introduction to the fascinating persona of DP. Born Dorothy Rothschild, in August 1893 (a year after my grandmother), she retains her first husband’s name throughout the rest of her life. Known for her stinging witticisms, she, by her own admission, feels insecure about her writing. She seems to swing back and forth between trying to please men and trying to establish her life free of them, as well—domestically and professionally.
I double over laughing at one anecdote that Day relates and must share it here:
“Mrs. Parker had a rooted aversion to [A. A.] Milne in all his pastel moods and a little history to go with it. In 1928 she had been required—in her capacity as ‘Constant Reader’—to review his latest offering, a book called The House at Pooh Corner, in which Piglet asks Pooh why he has added the phrase ‘Tiddely-pom’ to a song, and Pooh answers, ‘To make it more hummy.’
‘And it is that word “hummy,” my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weeder frowed up’” (25).
Some pieces are funnier than others. And unlike most of his humor, some seem to be a bit dated. In “Let It Snow,” for example, he tells the story of his family moving from upstate New York to North Carolina, where winter snow is but a wish sometimes. After five straight days of putting up with her kids, Sedaris’s mother locks them out of the house to play in the snow. “What little snow there was would usually melt an hour or two after hitting the ground, and there you’d be in your windbreaker and unconvincing mittens, forming a lump figure made mostly of mud. Snow Negroes, we called them” (141). This phrase have been “funny” in the early sixties when this happened, less so in 2004 when published, but certainly now seems way wrong to recall that term. Wouldn’t the incident remain as funny without the racial tinge to it? At any rate, Sedaris manages to make one laugh at what makes Christmas bad and what makes it . . . good.