Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Wild, Epic Tales of Gilgamesh and Dorothy Parker

As I might have mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm trying to do a lot more reading. Not just of the NY Times and the Washington Post, but of the classics.

And so I turned to the most learned man I know on the topics of books, reading and writing, my friend and fellow blogger George Tannenbaum. Like me, George was born in the Bronx. So he is not only wise to the way of the writer, he's wise to the way of the street.

That is to say, he can be fancy but also fucking funny.

At the top of his all time reading list is a book called Gilgamesh. It's actually less of a book and more of an epic poem. To be frank, I had never heard of it. Nor did I have much interest in investing my valuable time, time away from online chess, Shitgibbon memes and banner ads for Harry's House of Catheters, to read poetry.

But I was wrong.
And I'm man enough to admit I was wrong.

The story of Gilgamesh is fascinating. Once I accommodated myself to the lyrical storytelling I found I could not put the book down. In fact, I gave myself an entire rainy afternoon to the tale and read it cover to cover.

There is something very pleasing in the discovery of a new writer. So much so that I indulged my curiosity and made further inquiry into the work of a writer I had heard much about. But of whom I knew so little -- Dorothy Parker.

I would often come across anecdotes or more likely, quips, from Ms. Parker, and always thought, "Damn, she has a sharp tongue and is so damn funny." 

So I visited her Wiki page.

You can imagine my surprise to find that Dorothy Parker was originally Dorothy Rothschild. Moreover, she was Jewish on her father's side and of Scottish descent on her mother's.

Just like me.

And I can tell you from exposure to both cultures, that is an extremely odd combination. With the possible exception of their legendary thriftiness and dark, cynical sense of humor, the Jews and the Scots could not be more dissimilar.

Nevertheless, I am proudly in the same gene pool as Dorothy Parker and Mark Knopfler. Not in the deep end of the pool. More like in that little gutter that runs along the walls and collects all the debris.  That's where I am.

Yesterday, the Amazon Prime guy showed up with my copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker, a collection of poems, satire and stories. It's literally 627 pages. And though I haven't had the opportunity to dive in yet, I will leave you with this telling sample:


It costs me never a stab or squirm
to tread by chance upon a worm.
"Aha, my little dear, " I say
"Your clan will pay me back one day."

No comments: