If you need cheering up during the Swine Flu outbreak, take a look at Dorothy Parker's famous old book review on the love-life of poisonous bacteria.
Based on Appendicitis by Dr. Thew Wright, Parker considers the germ, from Spring fever to perforated ulcers.
"You might, and with good reason, take for your favorite picture the Front View of the Abdominal Cavity," she wrote. "It is good. I admit. [But] my own choice is the impression of Vertical Section of Peritoneum. It has strength, simplicity, delicacy, pity, and irony." And after all, she continues, "who that has stood bareheaded, and beheld the Peritoneum by moonlight can gaze unmoved upon its likeness?"
Skipping ahead to the love-life of poisonous bacteria and discovering that many germs simply divide into two equal parts in order to procreate, Parker found herself just a little jealous. "Think of it," she writes, "no quarrels, no lies, no importunate telegrams, no unanswered letters. Just peace and sunshine and quiet evenings around the lamp."
If Swine Flu has you too distraught for even this, try her review of swines -- without flu -- in Mussolini's romance novel. Yes, he wrote one. The Cardinal's Mistress. ("Oh, you Duce you!" she concludes.)
And watch out, Elizabeth Edwards. You may have today's best-seller in non-fiction on this subject, but Mussolini still has you beat for fiction.
This piece also appears on www.trueslant.com.
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