Dorothy Parker? Sid Ziff? Bennett Cerf? Groucho Marx? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The most scathingly hilarious quip about a novel is credited to the famous wit Dorothy Parker who reportedly included it in a book review:
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
Unfortunately, no one seems to know when this line was written or spoken. Also, I have not been able to determine the name of the book that was being slammed. Could you explore this?
Quote Investigator: Multiple researchers have attempted to locate this joke in the writings of Dorothy Parker and have been unsuccessful. The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the mass-circulation periodical Reader’s Digest in February 1960. The phrasing was slightly different, and the words were not ascribed to Parker: 1
From a book review: “It is not a book to be lightly thrown aside. It should be thrown with great force.”
—Sid Ziff in Los Angeles Mirror-News
Based on current information QI believes that Sid Ziff was the most likely creator of this humorous expression. Yet, the joke was reassigned to Dorothy Parker within a few years by Bennett Cerf who specialized in collecting and popularizing quotations. Cerf included the saying in his widely-syndicated newspaper column in October 1962: 2
FROM A BOOK REVIEW BY DOROTHY PARKER: “This is not a novel to be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.