Culture, Literature

Occasional Quote of the Day: The Pithiest Book Review Ever

Few American writers of the twentieth century so embody the quotably pungent and pithy in their prose as does Dorothy Rothschild Parker.

Google her name, and her often caustic, witty, gems just tumble out at you: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”–“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people He gave it to.”– “She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B” (this from a review of a Katharine Hepburn performance in a Broadway play)–“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”–“What fresh hell is this?”–“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”–“I don’t care what anybody says about me as long as it isn’t true.”–“Of course I talk to myself. I like a good speaker, and I appreciate an intelligent audience.” And perhaps my favorite, which I can’t even include here (no, it’s not the one about the girls at the Yale prom).

But the DP quote I’ve chosen for today is one I particularly love. It comes, as did so much of her output, from a review of an item of cultural interest, in this case, a particular book:

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”*

So, come on. Haven’t we all come across at least one of these in our lives? Which weighty tomes, or bits of literary fluff, would you put on the list? Or better yet, fling across the room, if you had the chance (less effective, more expensive, and not as much fun with e-books, which don’t land with the same satisfying thump, it’s true).

I’ll start: Just about anything with Jack Kerouac’s name on it (self-indulgent and creepy). Lady Chatterley’s Lover (tedious, overwrought, and laughable purple prose). Fifty Shades of Grey (unbelievably badly written). Any Dan Brown book, starting with The DaVinci Code (Can’t keep them straight, one from the other. I suppose if you overlook the abysmal writing, the lack of character development, and the ludicrous and inconsistent plot twists, what’s left might be worth saving).

You can have my share of any and all of these.

So. Your turn. What are your least favorite novels of all time?

*In its most quoted form, it’s generally assumed to be a paraphrase of the sentiment of the review. No one has been able to find exactly these words, in exactly this order, in her writings. But, if she didn’t say it in precisely this way, she should have.

2 thoughts on “Occasional Quote of the Day: The Pithiest Book Review Ever”

  1. Wide Sargasso Sea – a bit of torrid fan fiction for Jane Eyre, but written during the heady days of 2nd wave feminism. *shudders*
    The Awakening – by Kate Chopin. Assigned by the same HS English teacher as above. Spoiled bored rich housewife has affair with artist. Drowns herself.
    Tess of the Durbervilles – Thomas Hardy – I’m sensing a theme with this English teacher and books about disappointed romance…

    Anna Karenina was better than any of these.

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