LANE: Dawn Powell? I’ve never heard of her.
RORY: Nobody has, which is a shame because she wrote sixteen amazing novels, nine plays, and there are some who actually claim that it was Powell who made the jokes that Dorothy Parker got credit for.
Dawn Powell, previously discussed. Rory has already read her Selected Letters, and now is reading Novels 1930-42. Published in 2001 and edited by Tim Page, the five novels included in the single volume are Dance Night, Come Back to Sorrento, Turn Magic Wheel, Angels on Toast, and A Time To Be Born.
Powell’s novels are either witty, cynical bohemian works set in New York City, or earnestly sincere stories set in small town Ohio. This has led critics to wonder which was the “real Dawn Powell”, but I can understand Rory both longing for the sweet small town life, while aspiring to the intellectual rigours and fashionable life of the city. Like Powell, she is equal parts cynicism and sincerity, and like Powell, she was a precocious child and avid reader. No wonder Powell is her literary heroine.
It was critic Diana Trilling who reportedly said that Dawn Powell was the “answer to the old question ‘Who really makes the jokes that Dorothy Parker gets credit for?'”.