Friday, July 10, 2015

The Dud Avacado

The Dud Avocado
Elaine Dundy
5/5 stars

The Dud Avocado tells the story of Sally Jay Groce, fresh out of college and ready to live life to it's fullest in Paris. Once in Paris, she goes "more native than the natives" trying to cram as much "living" as she can in two short years. Sally Jay's attempts to live it up lead her into many roles, from mistress to actress to homebody, and she embraces every role with gusto--usually with disastrous results.

Dundy's fifty-year-old classic is fresh and witty, and sometimes a bit racy, and her prose is as close to perfection as one can find. Add this to Sally Jay, a protagonist so alive and real, and it is easy to see why this book gained such a following upon publication.

Here is an excerpt from chapter 3, one of my favorite bits, to give an example of the delicious flavor of the Dud Avocado:

"At eleven o'clock that night, in one of my dangerous moods--midnight-black, excited and deeply dreading (as opposed to one of my beautiful midnight-blue ones, calm but deeply excited), my nerves strung taut to singing, I arrived at the Ritz, only to discover all over again what a difficult thing this was to do. I tended to loose my balance at the exact moment that the doorman opened the cab door and stood by in his respectful attitude o f"waiting." I have even been known to fall out of the cab by reaching and pushing against the handle at the same time that he did. But this time, however, I had disciplined myself to remain quite, quite still, sitting on my hands until the door was opened for me. Then, burrowing into my handbag, which suddenly looked like the Black Hole of Cacutgta, to find the fare, I discovered that I needed a light. A light was switched on. I needed more than a light, I needed a match or a flashlight or special glasses, for I simply couldn't find my change purse, and when I did (lipstick rolling on the floor, compact open and everything spilled--passport,m mirror, the works) I couldn't find the right change. We were now all three of us, driver, doorman and I, waiting to see what I was going to do next. I took out some bills, counted them three times in the dark until I was absolutely certain that I had double the amount necessary, and then pressed it on the driver, eagerly apologizing for overtipping. Overcome with shyness I nodded briefly in the direction of the doorman and raced him to the entrance. I just won. Panting and by now in an absolute ecstasy of panic I flung myself at the revolving doors and let them spin me through. Thus I gained access to the Ritz."

I guffawed out loud so often throughout the Dud Avocado; I read parts aloud to my husband; I laughed at and cried with Sally Jay. . . in short, I lived this book. It was pure joy to read, and one that I will certainly read a second time.

(originally read/reviewed in 2009)

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