Dorothy Parker in the Twitter Age

Looking through The Paris Review's massive archive of interviews, I found this exchange:


PARKER 

 All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn't sit in the same room with me. 

 INTERVIEWER 

 What, then, would you say is the source of most of your work? 

 PARKER 

 Need of money, dear.

Parker, of course, enjoys a sacred place in my heart for her hatred of racism and segregation. (She left her entire estate to Martin Luther King, whom she'd never met.) But she was famous for her whit, a fact which the The Review's interview makes clear she came to regard with disdain. You can see how it can reduce a writer and their talents. And yet even through reading this interview, I thought Dorothy Parker would have killed on twitter:

INTERVIEWER 

Do you think economic security an advantage to the writer? 

PARKER 

Yes. Being in a garret doesn't do you any good unless you're some sort of a Keats. The people who lived and wrote well in the twenties were comfortable and easy living. They were able to find stories and novels, and good ones, in conflicts that came out of two million dollars a year, not a garret. As for me, I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I'd be darling at it. At the moment, however, I like to think of Maurice Baring's remark: "If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it." I realize that's not much help when the wolf comes scratching at the door, but it's a comfort.

Read the whole thing. There's some great stuff in there about the actual craft of writing, and Parker's own assessment of her work.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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