The Sexes by Dorothy Parker

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The Sexes by Dorothy Parker

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An excellent illustration from the Penguin Mini Modern Classics series of the wit and genius of Dorothy Parker. They were written in the early 20th century but are still fresh and new today. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Penguin Classics
ISBN: 978-0141196190

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From the young woman who examined her handkerchief in minute detail, to the soldier's leave which didn't live up to expectation, through the thoughts of the early hours of the morning to the actress who proved a disappointment to her fan and on to the glorious culmination of the child who should never have been called Lolita we have five wonderful short stories. They're in a book that's no bigger than most short stories but buy it and it could well be the best buy that you make this year.

It's a book that small enough to keep in a bag or a pocket and rich enough to stand constant rereading. You'll spot something new on each read – a gem hidden in a seemingly innocuous sentence: In the summertime, she wore little cotton play suits, though her only game was bridge, and short socks, revealing the veins along the backs of her legs. Some are gently brutal: Her face, if you remembered to see it, had a look of shy welcoming…, but a thread of keen observation runs through all the stories. She has the subtleties of the human condition spot on.

Somehow, by the end of each story the scales have been balanced, although it's not always obvious to the players. Dialogue is so well-written that you could swear that you were there. Parker captures the nuances of early twentieth century American life but manages to do so in a way which stands the test of time. Occasionally you're shocked to realise that a piece is set in the thirties or forties because it has seemed so relevant to the present day, but it's likely to be a very long time before these stories are viewed as period pieces.

It's a book to read and to treasure, to return to when you need something satisfying, when if there are only a small number of words they've all got to punch above their weight. Dorothy Parker is one of the few people who can achieve that.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Perfect Lives by Polly Samson or The Empty Family by Colm Toibin.

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Buy The Sexes by Dorothy Parker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sexes by Dorothy Parker at


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