Dorothy Parker: Selected Stories

By Dorothy Parker, Elaine Stritch

582 ratings - 4.21* vote

Parker's quips and light verse have become embedded in the American literary landscape. In these selected stories is the chance to draw on her insight into the social and emotional realities of life. 2 cassettes. Parker's quips and light verse have become embedded in the American literary landscape. In these selected stories is the chance to draw on her insight into the social and emotional realities of life. 2 cassettes.

... more

Book details

Audio, 2 pages
September 1st 1995 by Penguin Audio
Original Title
Dorothy Parker : Selected Stories (Big Blonde, Too Bad, Song of Shirt, Mr. Durant, Diary of a New York Lady, Standard of Living, The Garter)
0140862110 (ISBN13: 9780140862119)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

Read here link

The Waltz

Another awesome find, where Parker appears to be in my (younger) head. This reminds me so much of dances in my teens, held at a local hall.

Never seen anyone realise the inner voice and what young women present to the world - because we want(ed) to be thought "nice."

Genius writing.


Parker: Selected Stories, read by Elaine Stritch, is one of the best audio books I have heard. Stritch does an absolutely masterful job of interpreting Parker’s cast of characters.

I have the goal each year of including among my reading one or two authors or classics that I have never read – and am regretful of not having done so. That I had never read Dorothy Parker is downright embarrassing, and this audio book was a revelation. Author and reader are a perfect pair: Stritch’s slightly gravelly voice is matched to a collection of Parker’s melancholy New York types from the 1920s-1940s.

I had only known Dorothy Parker through some of her famous witty and caustic quotes, and I had expected something more light hearted. These are dark stories. Young women yearn for love, brittle society women have vapid desires for elegance, men cannot move from office to domesticity. Most memorably, the heart-breaking “Big Blonde” loses everything because of alcohol. Yet there is a wistfulness and sympathy for each lost soul amid the darkness. Parker must have cared for her characters, especially the women, who are mostly at the mercy of husbands, lovers, and bosses.

There’s an interesting side note. Parker left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr., whose civil rights work Parker admired. At King’s death, the estate was bequeathed to the NAACP. So that’s where the royalties go now. I read a bit about her life and her passions, and I think she’d be pleased.


The work of the late Dorothy Parker read by the late Elaine Stritch is a match made, possibly literally, in heaven.

As I love to read and listen to books, and studied English Lit in college, I had long heard of Dorothy Parker. And as a fan of Broadway, of course I know about Elaine Stritch. But, I had never, in my memory read something by Parker. Her prose is perfect in detail and descriptive qualities, but it is economical but not too spare. For example, “She was never noticeably drunk, and seldom nearly sober,” describes a middle-aged ex-party girl in “Big Blonde.” And, in “The Shirt” about one society woman’s philanthropic endeavor in sewing shirts for casualties “Mrs. Martindales’s breasts were admirable, delicate yet firm, pointing one to the right, one to the left: angry at each other as the Russians have it.” I did not really understand if this was a satire of women;s organizations at he start of WWII, or a sarcastic poke at her activities at sewing these shirts, or perhaps a rare case of Parker treating a character kindly. “From the Diary of a Lady” is the most perfect dissection of the life of a Manhattan Socialite, describing her with as much finesse, but less device as would Jane Austen.

Sometimes the story is cryptic, requiring that one had lived in that time or society; I found this with “Too Bad,” a story about society couples trying to understand one of their set separating, while going about their own empty marriages. In part it’s hard to imagine anyone being this concerned about anyone divorcing and seems a bit silly out of its historical context. The time period of these are mostly 1930-1947ish. Time and place, meaning Manhattan, are both important to the book.

Some of the stories are dark, with the history of the writers who were part of Parker’s set, I don’t know why I was surprised by this. I was expecting more of an American, female P.G. Wodehouse (funny since she filled in for him at Vanity Fair). such as the one where a business man has an affair with an unattractive secretary we, and unfortunately not the secretary, get to see him as a misogynist.

My favorite story was “The Garter.” It’s written in the first person and, I believe, is really Parker writing about herself. A girl at a party has a broken garter and is terribly embarrassed so, instead of moving, her thoughts devolves what she’ll have to do – sit in the chair she is occupying at a party until the end of time. It’s treated as if the very worst has happened. She believes she can only sit there holding her stocking up by hand. It’s obviously a dart being thrown at the change in clothes but without the allowance for wardrobe malfunctions. She sums up her wisdom with “Never trust a round garter or a wall street man.”

Stritch’s voice had the rasp of cigarettes — lots of cigarettes — but with her innate abilities as an actress who often played sarcastic characters she really gets it all, the characters, the rhythm, the punctuation. She really gets Parker’s, as well as the characters’, voices. I really can’t say how much I loved hearing Elaine Stritch read these stories. This is one instance where the persona reading the stories is as important as the stories themselves.

At a little over three hours, this is a good choice for someone who wants a short audiobook. It could be an easy to digest introduction to early to mid 20th century American Literature.


To be honest, I did not finish this book. The narrator was wonderful but the stories were boring as hell. Obvi had the audio, sorry I sound like a millennial, so far from it. Just lazy for this one. Thanks.


These stories:
"Big Blond"
"Too Bad"
"The Song of the Shirt"
"Mr. Durant"
"From the Diary of a New York Lady"
"The Standard of Living"
"The Garter"


I listened to these six selected Parker stories read by Elaine Stritch, as recommended by David Sedaris -- and he was right! Stritch is amazing at reading Parker's stories. Her hoarse smoker's voice, intonations, and emphasis on certain words as she reads, add to Dorothy Parker's dry wit and wonderful writing. If you like Dorothy Parker at all, you should listen to this version!

Claire O'Brien

Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was a bit disappointed by this collection of Dorothy Parker stories. There was wit there and some moments of insight, but sometimes they were a bit too obvious and often very depressing.


Every woman should read this sassy novel.


Delightful. I enjoyed every second and I’m sad it’s over. This is as much an endorsement of Elaine Stritch’s brilliant narration as it is of Dorothy Parker’s stories!


Wonderful reading of some of Ms. Parker's short stories, by the incomparable Elaine Stritch, whose voice is uniquely suited to the pieces.