Julie Barrett's Reviews > The Dud Avocado

The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
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's review
May 14, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: finished-2012
Read from May 14 to 20, 2012

A while ago I read an article in a magazine in which the author wrote about befriending Dundy at AA meetings in LA and not realizing for the longest time that the sweet little old lady at the meetings was actually an author and the ex-wife of the critic Kenneth Tynan. Dang, I wish I recalled what magazine that was! Anyway, I wrote down the name of Dundy's debut novel The Dud Avacado in my to-read notebook & just the other week decided now was the time to read it.

It's a short book & a quick read. I enjoyed Dundy's descriptions of Paris in the late 50s. Very bongos and beatniks. I kept thinking of that Audrey Hepburn movie Funny Face, when Audrey goes to Paris for that modeling assignment & meets the wacky beatnik.

The book itself is like the main character Sally Jay - entertaining & funny & slightly all over the place. There is not much of a plot - the book follows the adventures of Sally Jay during her year in Paris after college. Men she dates, parties she attends, cafes she hangs out in, odd jobs she does, trips she takes.

I was surprised at how risque the book was, considering it was written & published in the late 50's. Sally Jay has an orgasm in a cafe in the first chapter of the book! In public. She sleeps around, does some nude modeling & nothing horrid befalls her. She is not punished for her sexuality. Because the character is written by a woman? I think so. I don't think a man could have written this character without punishing her in some sense.

Dundy became quite well known for a while after this book came out. In the afterward she talks about all the famous authors who told her wonderful compliments about the book. Hemingway, Gore Vidal, Irwin Shaw etc. Also that her husband Kenneth Tynan became upset that she wrote a best selling, well received novel. So much so that he actually threw a copy of her book out the window during a fight. Talk about no support at home! I now want to read Dundy's memoir - seems like she had a hell of a life. Also in the afterward, she writes about all the people who asked her how much Sally Jay was based on herself. The answer? "All the impulsive, outrageous things my heroine does, I did. All the sensible things she did, I made up." Sounds like her memoir is going to be pretty good.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Al (new)

Al Thanks for the research and review- I really love the Nyrb series both content and design.

Julie Barrett Al wrote: "Thanks for the research and review- I really love the Nyrb series both content and design."

Oh, I didn't even notice who was republishing this until you pointed that out. I did notice at the back of the book the list of other books published by them. Saw a few I want to pick up.

As for the design, our ten year old son thought the cover was funny & that I was reading a dirty book since the woman is naked on the cover. Which I think was secretly a plus for him. Who knows, maybe he'll pick up the book from our shelf in a few years & read it, all because of the cover. I know I did stuff like that when I was young. Hell, I'll still read an unknown book based solely on how the cover looks!

message 3: by Al (new)

Al Me too - that's how this one grabbed me.

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