From the editors of Penguin Books and Penguin Classics

Alpine Giggle Week, a long-lost letter by Dorothy Parker

Kids, I have started one thousand (1,000) letters to you, but
they all through no will of mine got to sounding so gloomy I
was afraid of boring the combined tripe out of you, so I
never sent them. Now, however, it seems just the ripe time to
pen these few poor scraps, for we are having what is known
as Alpine Giggle Week. Gerald left hastily for America to
catch what is doubtless a last glimpse of his dear old mother,
whose blood-pressure is so high there is snow on it; Sara is
in bed with a pretty attack of jaundice, and rheumatism, than
which nothing makes you feel heartier; the Russian trained
nurse who takes care of little Patrick has gone completely
Muscovite and after a week of strained silence has shut
herself in her room and cannot be coaxed out; the pet
monkey bit one of the townsfolk so badly that both bloodpoison
and a law suit set in; and I, in my role of the old
family friend always right there in time of trouble, fell off an
unnamed Alp, cracked my right knee-cap and ripped all the
ligaments free, and it will be many a bright September day
before I will be able to walk the length of the room. And
how are all of you?

So begins Parker’s letter, written from a mountaintop TB colony in Switzerland. It’s a delightful piece of Parker history and you can read the rest (plus a fantastic introduction by Marion Meade) for just $1.99!

A very happy birthday to the inimitable Dorothy Parker, in her day called “the wittiest woman of our time.” And indeed she remains the wittiest woman of our time as well.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
We are giving away books like hotcakes for #dorothparkerweek! At this moment, you can win all five of the above books on our instagram and copies of Marion Meade’s extraordinary biography, What Fresh Hell is This?, on our twitter. We love that you guys keep buying Penguin Classics and sometimes we just feel the need to send that love back at you.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

We are giving away books like hotcakes for #dorothparkerweek! At this moment, you can win all five of the above books on our instagram and copies of Marion Meade’s extraordinary biography, What Fresh Hell is This?, on our twitter. We love that you guys keep buying Penguin Classics and sometimes we just feel the need to send that love back at you.

#DorothyParkerWeek Facts

If you’ve been following our celebration of #dorothyparkerweek on social media, you might be surprised at some of the amazing facts we’ve unearthed (with the help of Parker expert Marion Meade). If you’re just tuning in, here’s a few things you might not know:

  • The FBI’s file on Parker runs more than 900 pages. 
  • Dorothy never learned to cook. Or drive.
  • Parker was an eyewitness during the Spanish Civil War.
  • 90% of witticisms attributed to Dorothy were probably not really by her.
  • Parker left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr.

For many, many more of these fascinating facts, check out Marion Meade’s The Last Days of Parker. It’s probably the most fun you can have for $2.99!

Today marks the 124th birthday of H. P. Lovecraft, born today in 1890.

One hot summer afternoon (I must have been 11 or 12 years old) I stumbled upon the text of the Lovecraft story “The Outsider”. I was riding in the family car and the text was included in Spanish in a literary anthology for my older brother’s Lit class. I started to read, and almost an hour later, I was left behind in the parking garage, still reading, mesmerized and moved by this story.

In it, an entity emerges from the depths of the earth and ascends painfully, seeking, lost. And he encounters a horrifying entity at the end of a corridor. A loathsome creature, pale and deformed—who is it? And why does he stand there, looking directly at him? What is that frame that surrounds the door where the wretch stands? In the final paragraphs of the story, the narrator extends his hand and the horror hits the reader full force. The story provoked such strong emotions in me. As I closed that book, I felt transmogrified. I had become an acolyte of Lovecraft.

—Guillermo del Toro, from his introduction to Penguin Horror Classics

Things we’re liking: On BOMB, Stephen Crowe’s illustrated Finnegan’s Wake. Crowe mixes various graphic styles (as seen above) much the way Joyce employs a never-ending mishmash of dialects, wordplay, and linguistic techniques. Crowe explains, “I try to recreate that stylistic playfulness in pictures, combining visual motifs in a series of illustrative and graphic styles that I’ve stolen from every corner of visual culture, from medieval manuscripts to comic books.” Doubtless, we’re looking forward to this one, so best to start reading now and encounter it on your own imagined visual terms before seeing it through his eyes.

Things we’re liking: On BOMB, Stephen Crowe’s illustrated Finnegan’s Wake. Crowe mixes various graphic styles (as seen above) much the way Joyce employs a never-ending mishmash of dialects, wordplay, and linguistic techniques. Crowe explains, “I try to recreate that stylistic playfulness in pictures, combining visual motifs in a series of illustrative and graphic styles that I’ve stolen from every corner of visual culture, from medieval manuscripts to comic books.” Doubtless, we’re looking forward to this one, so best to start reading now and encounter it on your own imagined visual terms before seeing it through his eyes.

What’s your favorite Parker-ism?

Since we’re running #dorothyparkerweek on Penguin Classics social media to celebrate Parker’s birthday, what’s your favorite Dorothy Parker quote?

Re-blog in honor of #dorothyparkerweek!

classicpenguin:

Can’t get enough Dorothy Parker? Obviously. So we’ve got two brand new eSpecials—one by Parker and one about Parker—exclusive to Penguin Classics.

Alpine Giggle Week: How Dorothy Parker Set Out to Write the Great American Novel and Ended Up in a TB Colony Atop an Alpine Peak

Who else but Dorothy Parker could set off to Europe to write a novel and instead find herself trapped in a mountaintop TB colony in Switzerland? It’s a situation so zany it sounds like something out of one of her stories. The novel never happened, but luckily we have this extensive letter to her children, never before published. In spite of the gloomy and bizarre surroundings, Parker is in full form here with her characteristic vivacity and biting prose, gossiping about the likes of Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds, raving about a new typewriter (which she says “up till a few days ago, took the place of sex life” ), a new dog, and getting soused on champagne with Robert Benchley. Coupled with an introduction by Parker biographer Marion Meade, Alpine Giggle Week offers delightful insight into one of the twentieth century’s wittiest women.

The Last Days of Dorothy Parker: The Extraordinary Lives of Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman and How Death Can Be Hell on Friendship

Count on Dorothy Parker to avoid doing just about anything the easy way. So perhaps you won’t be so shocked to learn that for twenty years after Parker’s death, her ashes were missing. Here, Parker biographer Marion Meade (What Fresh Hell Is This?) draws on new research to offer a fascinating account of Parker’s decades-long friendship with Lillian Hellman and a unique exploration of her unusual death. Parker died of a heart attack in 1967, but wasn’t buried until 1988. Featuring a brilliant cast of literati—Dashiell Hammett, John O’Hara, among others—Last Days sheds light on Parker’s appropriately unpredictable and eccentric final years and days, as well as the conundrum of her ultimate resting place. It’s a story by turns bizarre, dramatic and comical—in short, everything you’d want and expect from Dorothy Parker.

 

We’ve done a few author weeks on social media, but this may be our best yet! In honor of Dorothy Parker’s 121st birthday on Thursday, we’re declaring it #dorothyparkerweek across our social media platforms. Be sure to follow our Twitter and instagram for info, updates and giveways. And please join us in this celebration of one of our most beloved writers.