Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This?
by Marion Meade. This revealing biography of writer and wit Dorothy Parker focused on the ups and downs of her private life, a terrain of despair, poor romantic choices, suicide attempts, and alcoholism. I have long admired Parker, a legend of the Algonquin Round Table, for her short stories and the sometimes biting brilliance of her remarks. What Fresh Hell is This?
(allegedly what Parker said whenever someone knocked on her door) seemed thorough and well researched, but the life revealed was so sad and so at odds with my delusions of this witty sophisticate that I was initially disappointed in the book. In the end, a very engrossing look behind the scenes of twentieth century American literati (Benchley, Hellman, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc. all receive coverage) and the life of a talented woman who found happiness very elusive....Running with Scissors: A Memoir
, by Augusten Burroughs, is an autobiographical account of the author's bizzare and disturbing childhood. Burroughs is abandoned at the home of his mentally ill mother's psychiatrist and the story revolves around the members of this "adopted" family. The dust jacket promises a "wickedly funny" tale and the writing is sharp and witty. However, I am too middle class, too motherly, or too much of a citizen to have found more than isolated amusements in this horrible account of child abuse and neglect. This book graphically describes the young boy's sexual entanglement with an older man, the unprofessional, immoral, and absolutely illegal actions of the psychiatrist/father, and several unpleasant scatological incidents. I understand a movie is being made of the book, starring Gwyneth Paltrow... curiouser and curiouser.
For the next read... perhaps some children's books or a light mystery to cleanse the palate?