Look, I didn’t INTEND to read two books at the same time that both just *happened* to be part of the Courtship of Rory Gilmore and Dean Forester, circa 2001. And I am by NO MEANS claiming that Dean is in any way Prime Rory’s-Boyfriend Material. I would never. IT JUST SO HAPPENED TO HAPPEN that I was reading these Dorothy Parker short stories [clearly an inspiration to Amy Sherman-Palladino, the Gilmore Girls creator who named her production company “Dorothy Parker Drank Here”] and in the meantime picked up Rosemary’s Baby [thanks again, Overdue podcast] and the connections sparked in my mind!
I WILL, however, make the potentially controversial statement that 2000-2001 Dean Forrester was Not All That Bad. In fact, when I rewatch Season 1 [and long for its aesthetic] I actually find him quite charming. Floppy haired and a little clueless at times he may be, but the boy read Anna Karenina for her, for god’s sake. He deserves at least a little bit of our respect.
Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
The year is 2000, the setting a small Connecticut high school in early autumn. A young woman clears out her locker, and a small paperback book falls off the top of her box. As she reaches for it, another, larger, attached-to-a-lanky-young-man-with-swooshy-hair gets there first…oh, sorry, I was actually just describing the first episode of Gilmore Girls.
I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I don’t know what I was expecting from the writing style, but the prose was crisp and engaging and didn’t feel as dated as I expected, other than a couplea racist things, which, you know, AREN’T GREAT, but were also fewer than I would have expected from a 1967 book written by a white dude. Levin also portrays his female lead with much more — I don’t know, BETTERNESS?? — than I’ve come to expect from dudes of his time [or, to be real, dudes in general]. As the reader, you can see the horrifying ways in which Rosemary is being manipulated, but she as a character never feels stupid. What’s so maddening and effective is that every reason she’s given makes sense, even though as the reader with the bird’s-eye view you can see how troubling it is!!!
I read this book in two nearly-obsessive stints, with a couple weeks’ break in the middle because I needed to recover from the midpoint-climax, which I’m going to spoil a liiiiitle bit here because I think in general content/trigger warnings are more important than a completely spoiler-free existence [though of course, you are free to skip this section and move on to the rest of the blog]: I, for one, did not know that a major plot point in this [50 year old!!!] book was a ritual rape and some significant gaslighting after the fact. So. Bear that in mind.
There is, of course, a movie version. Two actually: the original, well-known and received 1968 version which I will never watch because it was directed by Roman Polanski who is a garbage individual [link to wikipedia information on topic], and a much-less-well-received 2014 miniseries which I will probably watch because I live for slightly-campy-horror-miniseries-which-I-can-make-fun-of-to-help-ease-my-fear. [also if you would like to watch this with me please tell me because I cannot do it alone.] As I’ve stated before, I do not live to tell you what you should do in terms of interacting with art made by garbage humans [though if you do watch the ’68 version please try to do it in a way in which Polanski will not make money?] — but as for myself I have a hard time even focusing on the art in question without a loop in my head of the garbage human’s garbageness.
Anyway, it baffles me to no end why Amy Sherman-Palladino chose this book as the topic of Rory Gilmore and Dean Forester’s meet-cute, other than, I guess to show that cool guys can like motorcycles AND artsy horror, which, I’m sure, is absolutely true, but I would have an easier time believing it if you didn’t spend Season 2 onwards trying to trick us into thinking he was actually stupid all along, ASP!!! I have a lot of feelings about this.
Complete Stories – Dorothy Parker
Now is probably the time to admit that wayyyy more of my reading roster is inspired by Overdue podcast than might be altogether natural. I was inspired to return to Dorothy Parker after Overdue did an episode on two of her stories, in which I also learned some fun facts about Parker, including that:
a) DOROTHY PARKER REFERRED TO HER STEP-MOTHER AS “THE HOUSEKEEPER” OH MY GOD WHAT AN ICON
b) It’s also cool that she got into civil rights activism later in life!
I first became familiar with Parker in high school, when, in the course of my competitive speech career, I was in a category that required familiarity with 30 different short stories [competitive speech is a weird, weird activity, peeps], including Parker’s “A Telephone Call.” I will still never forget [or forgive] the other competitor I saw perform that story as if it were DRAMATIC and SAD rather than HILARIOUS AND SATIRICAL, IN KIND OF A SAD WAY.
Dorothy Parker is incredibly funny, with the kind of wit that is both precisely aimed at her own generation, but also transcends that generation in a way that makes you gasp and say: “did Dorothy Parker just call *ME* out??” In my opinion, she’s funniest when commenting on the lies we tell ourselves in the turbulence of dating and love, but her class observations are still remarkably relevant.
She was extremely prolific, and though her humor is present in everything she writes, she did take a couple genre dips that were very fun to come across. If you liked Rebecca, read “The Game”! If you didn’t like Rebecca, I’m not sure we can still be friends. For the most part, all of her works are fairly short too — easy to read before bed, during your lunch break, waiting for the bus, etc.
And now we come to the Dean of it all — aside from the Dorothy Parker reference in the production credits at the end of every episode (and dozens of references throughout the show), in episode 1.9, “Rory’s Dance,” the book that Rory brings on their dance date –and that Rory and Dean then fall asleep reading — is The Portable Dorothy Parker, which, ok, is not EXACTLY what I read…but since I read Complete Stories, does that mean that I out-Rory-ed Rory?!?!
Thank you for bearing with me in this foray into a controversially themed episode. My hope and dream for all of you is that you find your Season 1 Dean Forester and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.