Liquor Makes You Smart by Anita Loos, 1927
The magic trick:
Establishing a comedic narrative voice immediately
Maybe you’re like me and have no idea who Anita Loos is. Maybe you pick up this story with no clue that she was well known in her time for comedic novels, including “Men Prefer Blondes.” Even if that’s the case, I am quite sure you will figure out her tone very quickly. This is funny, fluffy, gentle satire at its finest. She establishes her first-person narrator in the first paragraph and the story romps on from there. Perhaps it hasn’t aged particularly well as its character send-ups, I’m sure, played a little better back in the ’20s, but I still enjoyed the humor.
Think of it as Wodehouse without the supreme gift for language, or better yet, Dorothy Parker with a plot. And that’s quite a trick on Loos’s part.
Well, Dorothy and I were spending a delightful winter at Palm Beach but we decided that society gets on a girl’s nerves. So we decided to get away from everything and take a trip to Cuba. I telegraphed my husband at New York to send us the money but he became economical and said stay where we were.
So, then, we counted up our money and we had enough fare to get to Cuba, but we did not have so much left to pay high price hotel bills. But I am always of the optimistic nature. So I said, “Let’s go anyway and maybe everything will all turn out for the best.”