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Extended Audio Sample Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? Audiobook, by Marion Meade Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,319 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marion Meade Narrator: Grace Conlin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9781455172023
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She was known for her outrageous one-liners, her ruthless theater criticism, her clever verses and bittersweet stories. But there was another side of Dorothy Parker: a private life set on a course of destruction through two divorces, a string of painful affairs, a lifelong problem with alcohol, and several suicide attempts.

In this lively, absorbing biography, Marion Meade illuminates both sides of the fascinating Parker: her dark days, as well as her days in the sun at the Algonquin Round Table with Robert Benchley, George Kaufman, and Harold Ross and in Hollywood with S. J. Perelman, William Faulkner, and Lillian Hellman. At the dazzling center of it all, Meade gives us the flamboyant, self-destructive, and brilliant Dorothy Parker.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A compelling and somewhat frightening tale…Meade is also to be applauded for a great feat of detective work.”

    Cosmopolitan

  • “An intensely readable biography…Wonderfully full, richly researched.”

    Mademoiselle

  • “Meade’s lively biography recounts the unhappy life of the wise-cracking versifier, short story writer and critic...So detailed is Meade’s book that this, one imagines, is the last time a biographer will need to explain why so talented a writer could at the same time be so nasty a human being.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This well-read, well-written biography caresses your ears like a tautly written novel. Conlin, whose voice is both rich and melodious, reads with great style.” 

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 2/13/2014

    " An excellent, detailed but not *too* detailed, thoroughly engrossing biography of Parker. If you like Parker, which I really do. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda Cloud | 2/12/2014

    " This was just okay, to me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liisa | 2/10/2014

    " I was living in some of the places Ms. Parker lived in So. Cal. at the time of reading, so that was fun. An interesting biography, Dorothy Parker's life was uphills and downhills. Her quips, of course, are wonderful, and I cringed a lot at her bad life decisions. Well-written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 2/10/2014

    " I don't think the writing was all that great, but Dorothy Parker is certainly fascinating so it's worth the read. It does get a bit tedious with the constant name dropping, esp. people I know nothing about. But she's a hoot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Catherine Handren | 2/4/2014

    " Dorothy Parker was bad ass. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Saul Picazo | 1/28/2014

    " Mrs. Parker and her Vicious Circle. If you're a fan, you'll enjoy the book. Otherwise, you might find that you can't stand her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick | 1/24/2014

    " A pretty good biography on a writer who deserves to be better remembered for her works than for the urban legends about her. Although the stories are quite enjoyable and memorable... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 1/22/2014

    " I've always been a fan of her wit. My favorite chapters were those involving the Algonquin Table years - a place I would certainly visit if time travel were a possibility! :-) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol | 1/18/2014

    " The reference work and the writing in this book is excellent. Dorothy Parker is not a woman I would have liked to meet. I feel the final paragraph in the book summed up her life...."She was a STRONG person....she was at war with herself all her life......All the digs she took at people, friend and foe alike, were really digs at herself..." But then, maybe I couldn't stand her because I saw myself in her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danelle Garrison | 1/18/2014

    " she had an interesting life. reading this book gave me a lot of insight into her personality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 12/29/2013

    " One of the most fascinating, in-depth biographies I've read in a long time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abby Sominski | 12/16/2013

    " 'what fresh hell is this?' is a great phrase and one my sister and I use frequently, I bet if everyone started saying it pretty soon it would be the new catchphrase and Dorothy Parker would get the credit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Misty | 12/13/2013

    " an excellent biography. truth be told, her life is a better read, than her work. i saw this before the movie.....vicious circle yadayada, while jennifer jason leigh was great, the movie doesn't come close to dotties life story. if you like biographies, and old new york, read it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Kay | 12/4/2013

    " Not always a rosy view of a new favorite author of mine. Nobody's perfect! I will be re-reading this book at some time. I enjoyed it that much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Ann Masura | 12/1/2013

    " I'm a big Dorothy Parker fan and found this book very...uh, longwinded. Bio's are not usually as interesting as this but just a LITTLE too much info on trivial things. Some GREAT lines in this book - still a good read. Just a long one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Blythe Christopher | 7/8/2013

    " Excellent book and lovely, biting turns of phrase from the lone woman from the Algonquin Round Table. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edward | 5/4/2013

    " provided what I would imagine to be the feel and smell of NYC and its environs in the 20's & 30's. certainly will make you curious about the lives of the other members of the Algonquin Round Table. A good read with a Manhatten in the lounge of the Algonquin. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doti | 7/4/2012

    " She was a puzzle to many, and perhaps to herself, but her ideas were beyond her times and give us all something to consider. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 6/9/2012

    " Infinitely better than "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ami Thomas | 5/17/2012

    " I just love Dorothy Parker and her bios are always like "how-tos" for me! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 1/29/2012

    " Clear, not sentimental but not too harsh either. A good accounting, I think, of this often overlooked journalist and fiction writer. The woman was more than a few bitter quips! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chad | 1/20/2012

    " I liked this book and learned a lot from it. The writing was no where near as good as the subject, but really, how could it? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casey72 | 12/16/2011

    " Very entertaining, informative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 8/16/2011

    " Wow. She was cuckoo...and tragic. Amazing how so many epically famous writers were essentially living hand-to-mouth and killing themselves with alcohol. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doti | 5/16/2011

    " She was a puzzle to many, and perhaps to herself, but her ideas were beyond her times and give us all something to consider. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sarah | 2/22/2011

    " I didn't even quite make it all the way through this one, because Meade irritated me so much. She relied far too much on hearsay and opinion, and could definitely have spent a lot more time doing some fact checking. On top of that, her style was pedantic and generally unimpressive. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carlos | 2/8/2011

    " Garisson Keillor recommended Dorothy Parker's work. I got this book thinking it was a Parker book. I was bored and I did not like it.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy | 2/7/2011

    " Loved it; love Dorothy Parker. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 2/5/2011

    " WoW! Great read & what a cast of illustrious characters. A fair number of suicides are referenced as well, which apparently was the sobering other side of the "gay 1920's" and neverending martini happy hours. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ann | 1/21/2011

    " Parker was such an intriguing person, so intelligent, witty. I always wanted to know more about her. This bio is well researched and written. She still fascinates me, but she was obviously someone you didn't want to know well. But, wow, what a talent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 carolyn | 10/25/2010

    " A MUST HAVE for every Dorothy Parker fan. This takes you into the world and life of Dorothy Parker with much detail and description. Loved it!!!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Benedict | 7/12/2010

    " Dorothy Parker is a great writer, but she is so mean! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jill | 7/10/2010

    " The writing was great, no beef with that. It was the subject that was hard to stomache. This woman comes off as a whiney, pathetic, twit. As I was reading it all I could think of was please off yourself already so I can finish it and move on to something better. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lisa | 5/18/2010

    " Just wasn't engaged but the author. Read 1/4 and then sent it back to the library. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave | 2/23/2010

    " Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? - Marion Meade (Penguin Books 1987)Biography. Well done take on Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table of the 1930's. 5/10 "

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About the Author
Author Marion Meade

Marion Meade is the author of Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? She has also written biographies of Woody Allen, Buster Keaton, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Madame Blavatsky, and Victoria Woodhull, as well as two novels about medieval France. She lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Grace Conlin (1962–1997) was the recording name of Grainne Cassidy, an award-winning actress and acclaimed narrator. She was a member of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and won a Helen Hayes Award in 1988 for her role in Woolly Mammoth’s production of Savage in Limbo.