Anita Loos •
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes •
To amuse herself on a cross-country train trip in the 1920s, screenwriter Anita Loos dashed off a comic sketch about the ultimate ditzy blonde and showed it to H.L. Mencken. Menck liked the sketch so much he encouraged her to expand it into a novel . . . and thus was born Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The book is narrated in the first person breathless by Lorelei Lee, originator of the phrase “a girl like I.” While Lorelei’s general knowledge could fit comfortably in a champagne glass with room left over for the fizz, she exhibits a dazzling shrewdness where the opposite sex is concerned. “By the time Piggie pays for a few dozen orchids, the diamond tiara will really seem like quite a bargain.”
After visiting London, where “nearly everybody speaks English anyway,” and taking in the “Eyefull Tower,” Lorelei and her pal Dorothy Shaw are let loose on “the central of Europe.” Dorothy tells a suitor, “I hear they number all of you Louies over here in Paris,” but “he need not try to figure out his number because she got it the minute she looked at him.” In the sequel, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, Lorelei frets that her friend “is beginning to start toward the edge of a brink.”
Writers as diverse as James Joyce, Edith Wharton, and Aldous Huxley all found Lorelei irresistible; odds are you will too.