Dud Avocado

Dundy, Elaine. The Dud Avocado. New York: New York Review Books, 2007.

I think I would have liked to have known Elaine Dundy. Loosely based on her own life, Dud Avocado is a delicious romp through Paris, France in the 1950s. Dundy or rather Sally Jay Gorce, storms her way through the night clubs and Parisian society. Here’s the skinny on the plot: when Sally Jay Gorce was thirteen years old her uncle made her a deal: stop running away (now) and graduate from college (eventually). If she did all that he would pay for her to go anywhere for two years. No strings attached. He wouldn’t even try to contact her. After two years she could come home and tell him all about it…When we first meet Sally she is in Paris, France and it has been eight years since she made that deal. At the moment she is trying to win the favors of actor Larry Keevil, a fellow American with shiny auburn hair and gray-green eyes. She is in love. The only problem is this: Sally is currently involved with a “three-timing” man who already has a wife (1), mistress (2) and Sally (3). Sally gets mixed up in a bunch of relationships but she always keeps coming back to Larry. Only, he’s not the man she thinks he is. And she isn’t the girl she thought she was. Turns out she really did want to be a librarian.

The line that says it all for me: “We had lived there all alone for two whole months without it burning down” (p 203).

Confessional: I have to admit to an earlier confusion. Because both The Old Man and Me and The Dud Avocado were loosely based on Elaine Dundy’s personal life I thought the two books were connected. In Dundy’s early 20s she was in Paris and later she went to London. I thought the heroines of Old Man and Dud would be one and the same therefore their stories should be read in order. Nope. Two different characters based on the same author. Go figure.

Reason read: I heard this was supposed to be read before The Old Man and Me, or rather, the same leading character was in each story. Nevertheless, I have read them backwards.

Author fact: The Dud Avocado was Dundy’s first novel and was a hit, much to the jealousy of her husband (also a writer as a film critic). Much has been made about Groucho Marx’s praise of Dud.

Book trivia: According to Terry Teachout’s introduction The Dud Avocado has never been out of print in England. Pretty cool for a first novel.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called simply “American Girls” (p 18).

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