Sunday, October 10, 2010
The Dud Avocado (author Elaine Dundy) was apparently received with very high praise when it was first published in the 50s. As Groucho Marx wrote, "I had to tell someone (and it might as well be you since you're the author) how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm)."
It's the witty story of a young American woman full of wanderlust. Recently graduated from college, her eccentric uncle gives her a comfortable allowance so she can go abroad and sow her wild oats, so to speak.
Sally Jay Gorce is the girl and words like zany and madcap don't quite do her (or the predicaments she gets herself into) justice--although they do fit in with the 1950s language of the novel. Living in Paris' Left Bank, she aimlessly hobnobs with a hodge-podge of people--artists, ne'er do wells, directors, an Italian diplomat, etc. All the while making a number of questionable decision which are a skillful combination of hilarious and unfortunate.
Sally Jay's voice is so clear and funny that the book makes for a light read, though some of the Sex and the City-esque themes (very, very tamed down--it was the 50s!), ie Sally Jay's promiscuity, were reminders that not much has changed in the past 60 years. As she picks herself up time and again, there was good insight, I thought, into the reason (or lack of reason) that people just go and do. Sally Jay is looking for something but misses meaning over and again because she has this blind ideal of love and fame and living it up.
I'd definitely recommend The Dud Avocado for it's sharp wit and good writing. I enjoyed the strength of the character's voice and it reminded me a lot of movies from that time period like Breakfast at Tiffany's.