Parker: Selected Stories

Narrated by: Elaine Stritch
Length: 2 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (376 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Dorothy Parker's quips and light verse have embedded themselves in the American literary landscape, but it was her prose that proved her star and demonstrated her talent as extending far beyond her time. In her fiction, she not only brought to life the urban milieu that was her bailiwick, but lay bare the uncertainties of ordinary people living ordinary lives, all told in her unflinching and deeply personal voice.

In these selected stories, read for you by Elaine Stritch, we have the chance to draw upon her insight into the social and emotional realities of human nature. The following stories are featured in this audiobook collection:   

  • "Big Blonde"
  • "Too Bad"
  • "The Song of the Shirt"
  • "Mr. Durant"
  • "From the Diary of a New York Lady"
  • "The Standard of Living"
  • "The Garter"
©1924, 1928, 1929, 1933, 1941 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. These stories are selected from Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker, edited by Colleen Breese (Penguin Books, 1993). “Too Bad” first appeared in Smart Set; “Mr. Durant” in American Mercury; and “Big Blonde” in The Bookman. The other stories were first published in The New Yorker. (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"There have been other recordings of Parker's stories, several very good. But this is a particularly happy pairing of subject and reader. Stritch's famous whiskey tenor does the stories - with their glossy exteriors and yearning hearts - justice. Sympathy is always lurking in her voice, especially for Parker's female characters, but you can't stop and wallow; there's the next quip to get to, the next coping mechanism. A life in musical comedy brings timing and acidity to the brittle society antics of "Too Bad" or "The Standard of Living". And there is a poignancy, too, to the deep and rueful knowledge of the ravages of alcohol laid so bare in "Big Blonde". In case you're worried Stritch's personality overpowers Parker’s material, don't be; she's too good an actor for that." (The New York Times Book Review

Editor's Pick

Well played, David Sedaris
"I’m cheating a little with this one, but trust me, it’s worth it. While this version of Parker: Selected Stories was originally recorded in the '90s, I begged to choose it as my Editors Select this month because it’s newish to Audible listeners and I love the story of how that came to be. This summer my fellow editor Emily had the privilege of chatting with the one and only David Sedaris about his favorite listens, and he mentioned that he considers Elaine Stritch reading Dorothy Parker to be one of the greatest audiobooks of all time. But there was a catch—it had only ever existed on cassette. And why was that, he wondered? Well, Elaine and Dorothy must have been listening as they clinked martini glasses in heaven, because after that interview, Parker: Selected Stories was mysteriously taken out of the vault and re-released as downloadable audio. And it’s as magnificent as Sedaris promised. Elaine Stritch is the perfect conduit for each of Dorothy Parker’s stories, which I can only describe as shots of caustic wit followed by chasers of heartbreaking humanity. This one was worth the wait."
Rachel S., Audible Editor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very good/very depressing

For hours of uninterrupted reading enjoyment I recommend googling "Dorothy Parker Quotes". I expected more of the same from this recording, but that's not what I got. To be honest, if I'd known what I was getting I never would've bought the recording. I gave it 5 stars because of of the very high quality of the prose and the performance.

I'd never read any of Parker's prose before, so I had no idea how dark and melancholy some of it can be. She describes her characters with all the precision and attention to detail of an Ansel Adams photograph. If those characters are self-centered, evil, or just very unhappy, the result can be very depressing (for me anyhow).

If you want to listen to the words of a master storyteller read with exceptional skill, I very highly recommend this recording. If your temperament is similar to mine, however, I recommend doing so on a bright sunshiny day when the birds are singing and the children are playing and the next election is years away. If you choose to listen on a cold and rainy winter night, I suggest that you make sure that the pills and firearms are safely locked away, and that you're nowhere near any upper story windows.

I am glad to mention that the last story was more what I had expected. It is about the disaster of a broken garter at a party, and is very funny.

95 people found this helpful

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Two great talents

A moving reading of some of Parker's best by the perfect voice of a woman who understands Parker and her characters and who had lived some of their pains. Brilliant rendition unavailable until this digital remake of a long-treasured audio cassette.

32 people found this helpful

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Not the stories I’d have chosen, but good

Kind of a random selection of Parker’s stories. Some were a little melancholy, some cruel, and only one funny. Elaine Stritch’s narration was spot on.

5 people found this helpful

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A Delight!

Want to know what's really going on in everybody's head (including yours)? Just ask Dotty.

And if it's Elaine delivering the message, you'll learn even more. The best part is feeling the kind heart behind the sardonic prose, and understanding the deep concern for people under the laughs.

One of the best times we've ever had with an audiobook!

4 people found this helpful

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Where has Dorothy Parker been all my life?

I generally shun short stories, but for some whimsical reason I purchased this volume. OMG. The dry wit! In terms of wit and ability to capture characters, she reminds me a bit of Eudora Welty, though very different setting and much less sympathy. And the narrator takes the cake. Period perfect. I felt as though my girlfriend Parker was telling me her gossip when I stopped into her apartment for a lunch of bourbon and water.

2 people found this helpful

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Well done but so short??

A good collection as far as it goes. Well read. Displays the wry humour for which Ms. Parker is famous. Elaine Stritch has a rich gravelly voice that compliments Parker's (sometimes painful) irony. Where's the rest?

1 person found this helpful

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Perfect stories from a depressed alcoholic

These stories reflect the bleak, often limited lives of single women and housewives. The men are almost all rogues with no concern for the women in their lives. There's little of Parker's noted humor and wit unless you consider tragic irony to be wit. It's only 3 hours so not great value for the money.

1 person found this helpful

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Just delightful

Starts out with a few sad stories but this collection is marvelous and glamorous even in the wretched stories. Loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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So Great!

I really enjoyed how real each character is, her writing style is beautiful. I enjoyed each story.

3 people found this helpful

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ugh

I thought Dorothy Parker was supposed to be witty and funny. Maybe it was the performance, maybe the content, but I did not find it so. Dreary stories about dreary people behaving stupidly.

3 people found this helpful