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The Dud Avocado (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – June 5, 2007
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“Basically, if you were to set Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady near the Sorbonne, untangle the sentences and add more slapstick, sex and champagne cocktails, you’re getting close.” - Rosecrans Baldwin, NPR's "All Things Considered"
"Already singled out in O the Oprah Magazine and named an Amazon.com 'mover and shaker,' this edition will...introduce a new readership to the unforgettable Sally Jay Gorce, described by one reviewer as a cross between Carrie Bradshaw and Holden Caulfield." --Los Angeles Times
"Before Bridget Jones, deeply sweet and recklessly intimate Sally Jay Gorce trolled for love (Parisian style) in novelist (and sometime wife of theater critic Kenneth Tynan) Elaine Dundy's The Dud Avocado, a madcap read from 1958 that's finally back in print in the United States." --O Magazine
"The Dud Avocado follows a charming, if blundering, 21-year-old Missouri native, Sally Jay Gorce, who spends two postcollege years sipping Pernod on "la plus belle avenue du monde," the Champs-Élysées; staging William Saroyan and Tennessee Williams with an American theater troupe, and fumbling terribly at love." --The New York Sun
"Think Daisy Miller with a dash of Fear of Flying; My Sister Eileen with a soupçon of Sex and the City; Anita Loos crossed with Allen Ginsberg." --The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Now, this favorite has been re-issued yet again, with a gorgeous black and white nude on the cover. Fair enough, for here is a book primarily about sex and style...few writers ever soared so high and so delightfully." --Los Angeles Times
"The Dud Avocado opens with our beautiful and hapless heroine--imagine the panache of Holly Golightly crossed with the naive knowingness of Holden Caulfield--wandering one September morning through Paris in an evening dress." --Boston Globe
"Elaine Dundy's semi-autobiographical novel The Dud Avocado, which follows the romantic escapades of Sally Jay Gorce--an irrepressible young woman seeking adventure in '50s Paris--contains a lot of what makes fiction fun: charm, wit, and devastatingly sharp insights." --Very Short List
"The gayest and most cheerful novel about Americans in Paris I have read...a dazzling performance--as light as a champagne bubble, as continuously attention-getting as a juggler keeping seven swords in the air at the same time." --The New York Times
"Take one zippy, curious, 21-year-old American named Sally Jay, just out of college. Drop her in the middle of Paris' Left Bank. Add an Italian diplomat, an American theatrical director , a couple of painters and a white slave trader. Mix until all bubbles. The result: a delightful few hours of sparkling reading entertainment. Summing up: Froth and frolic." --Newsweek
"Delightful...her portrait of the Left Bank expatriates is caustically funny." --Time
"A champagne cockail...rich, invigorating, and deceptively simple to the taste...One falls for Sally Jay from a great height from the first sentence." --The Observer
"A first-rate reporter, [Dundy] has made The Dud Avocado into a Baedeker of neo-Bohemiahe...the atmosphere of a French student café; the folkways of hobohemia; the accents of the International Set-all these Miss Dundy has captured with sill and a degree of wit." --The New York Times Book Review
"A cheerfully uninhibited...variation on the theme of the Innocents Abroad...Miss Dundy comes up with fresh and spirited comedy...Her novel is enormous fun-sparklingly written, genuinely youthful in spirit, and exquisitely gay." --The Atlantic
"Elaine Dundy writes a sprightly novel to bring us up to date on the American girl from across the street who goes to Paris looking for Life and Love. Her book is sad and tender, bubbling with fun, spiced with insight...The Dud Avocado is satiric, mostly true, and decidedly sexy...The writing is sharp." --New York Herald Tribune
"[W]itticisms that crackle from every page." --Indianapolis Star
"One of the funniest books I've ever read; it should be subtitled Daisy Miller's Revenge." --Gore Vidal
"American goes to some big city with dreams of conquest, hilarity ensues. Dundy’s 1958 novel (which had a huge fan in Groucho Marx) is pretty much the best and funniest example of that whole genre." —Jason Diamond, Flavorwire
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a well-written book - cleverly hiding its sinister elements in the light and deft descriptions Sally Jay gives of her life. You feel that sometimes she is trying to kid herself and the reader that really, everything's going to be all right. This is a genuinely entertaining read that still manages to encompass some big themes - the search for happiness and acceptance; making priorities in life; disillusionment and what it can do to temperament. Sally Jay is sure to stay with this reader for a long time.
The intent of the narrative is to be light-hearted and comedic, which I suppose it accomplishes on a seldom basis, but the negatives outweigh any of the positives for this book. We get into the head of our protagonist, Sally Jay, but that narrator’s head is about the last place you probably want to be. She goes on and on about banal events in her daily life: what she wore, what other people are wearing or drinking, who is sitting at the next table, who is peeling labels off bottle caps, etc. Everything this narrator gives to us seems inconsequential and empty.
On some level, this book is supposed to be a coming of age novel, but Sally Jay remains fairly shallow throughout, along with most of the other characters. The narrative, much like the narrator, lacks any direction or purpose, wandering from water hole to water hole or from bed to bed in search of life’s answers or enlightenment. There is far too much rambling without purpose, and when there is detail, it comes in the form of a laundry list of every bar Sally Jay went to and each person she met.
I found Sally Jay’s character so superficial, and her attempts at wit or meaning or finding “love” a major fail and meaningless. I started to lose track of all the guys that she was involved with, especially since they were all fairly interchangeable. At one point, after a drunken night out, she thinks she has slept with Larry, feels guilty and regretful about it, and then promptly winds up in a French painter’s bed hours later. So much for that whole guilt thing.Read more ›
Fifty years ago the adventures of Sally Jay Gorce, the heroine, would have dazzled the reader. After all, this was pre-Women's Lib, pre-birth control pill and everything else that revolutionized women's place in society in the 1970's. Here was a daring young woman--only 18 years old--living in Paris on her own, and experimenting with Life in an uninhibited way. Of course this included taking lovers, in fact starting with a married Italian diplomat who also had a mistress. No social mores bounded her. Whatever she wanted she got, whatever she chose to dress (pre-hippie era) she wore. All this in an era so repressed that TVs in America would not show married couples sharing a bed.
To a repressive society of 1950's America, this heroine was unique. She embodied the spirit and guts to do things that most women would not even verbalize. No wonder this book was so successful. It was a herald of things to come, though no one knew the extent of those changing values. When Society's values changed and women were able to live free unrepressed lives, to younger generations, the adventures of the Dud Avocado's heroine would not have struck that same chord.
Ms.Teachout warns us in the Preface that if we do not find this book hilarious, then we have no sense of humor. It is not hilarious by today's standards. It is poignant in places and filled with insights.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The writing and characters were so intricate and well-developed. The plot moved slowly, and the main character (Sally Jay) was spoiled, idealist and irresponsible. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is just "events" in the life of a girl who considered herself to be in the best, most hip spot in the world and thought she would share with us inexperienced folk, the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ronnie B.
I never got it. Debauchery, stupidity, silliness. Unintelligent. Sad. I don't want to go on! So so so so bad!Published 11 months ago by Julie Spellman
Dud Avocado is a slice of life novel when those with money could have their grand adventures of living life moment by moment with no concern for their futures. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Karen Moran
This delightful confection about a young girl, Sally Jay Gorce, in Paris has the kind of timeless voice that one can imagine sounding piquant and fresh in just about any decade of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by BowedBookshelf