Selected Shorts: Dorothy Parker's Wicked Pen

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Guest host David Sedaris presents a program of stories by the legendary wit, Dorothy Parker

Parker was the reigning Queen of the Algonquin Roundtable, where writers for the smart magazines of the 1920s and 1930s met for lunch and to skewer each other.  Her wickedly funny stories for The New Yorker among other outlets showed an uncanny ear for the peevish, pretentious, and self-deluded.  Guest host David Sedaris says that in many of her stories, if you look past the laughs, you will see the sadness.

The late John Updike clearly agreed—he chose our first story, “Here We Are,” for the volume of The Best American Short Stories of the Century that he edited.  In it, a honeymooning couple finally starts to get to know one another other—with unexpected results.  The reader is Jane Alexander, an award-winning stage and film actor who also ran the National Endowment for the Arts for a few years.

Dorothy Parker came of age as a woman and a writer in the speakeasy era; there’s a hectic, raffish quality to some of her work, including the hilarious “Here We Are.”  Its setting is a cave-like bar in which a jealous woman delivers a non-stop monologue to an unseen beau, fuelled by an unending stream of highballs.  Reader Dana Ivey makes every slur count.

The heroine of our last tale, “The Waltz,” also delivers a monologue, but it’s interior.  She’s at a dance, stuck with a partner who dances like a buffalo and kicks her in the shins.  She’s simpering on the outside, but seething on the inside.  The reader is indy star Parker Posey.

“Here We Are,” by Dorothy Parker, performed by Jane Alexander

“Just a Little One,” by Dorothy Parker, performed  by Dana Ivey

“The Waltz,” by Dorothy Parker, performed by Parker Posey

The SELECTED SHORTS theme is David Peterson's “That's the Deal,” performed by the Deardorf/Peterson Group.

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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And for more thoughts on the stories in SHORTS, check out literary commentator Hannah Tinti’s site at