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The Dud Avocado (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Elaine Dundy
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Annoying character and story Jan. 22 2009
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The story is narrated by Sally Jay Groce, a young American girl on her own in Paris in the fifties, who falls in love constantly, has affairs without remorse, and is just too, too bored with it all. She's completely self-centered and shallow, wants only to have fun, and is living happily off her rich uncle's hefty allowance.

I enjoyed the first third of the book when I found Sally Jay's silly and immoral lifestyle somewhat interesting, but as the book wore on, it became a chore to finish. She's a pretty unlikable (if not odious) character, sounding more like forty or fifty than twenty, and the way she just floats from adventure to adventure seemed not only irresponsible and pointless, but sad.

I can assume this was quite shocking when it was published in 1958, but by now it's all been done before and better by the likes of Bridget Jones. I found "Dud" relentlessly tedious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yay, yay for Sally Jay! Aug. 21 2003
By Megami
Format:Paperback
The narrator of this story, Sally Jay, seems to have a lot in common with that other literary single-girl (pre-Bushnell days) Holly Golightly. She manages to combine innocence and world-weariness, rolling with her situation, no matter how chaotic it becomes. If anything, Sally Jay is Holly's older, slightly tougher sister. A young woman who has been running away all her life, gets the chance to run away to Paris thanks to an avuncular uncle, and lives a pink-haired bohemian existence, trying to experience life to the full - affairs with older men, hanging out with artists, nights at the Ritz followed by dingy student cafes. In the odd beginning chapter (it feels like you have missed an introductory chapter, and it takes awhile before you feel like you know what is going on) she meets a boy/man she has always had a crush on, and her chaotic life becomes even messier. One of her descriptions of him - 'I didn't know anyone he'd actually been wrong about - except of course me, but then as we know I am totally incomprehensible to everyone including myself' is shown by the end to be sadly true.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a gift Jan. 4 2002
Format:Paperback
Years ago, I came across this book at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford and absolutly devoured it. I let my mother borrow it, an aunt, several friends and then lost my copy in the mix of it all. Since I was then living in NYC, it was impossible to come by a copy so I ended up buying about 10 copies and giving them as gifts to friends over the years. Dundy's prose isn't remarkable, but her youthful expression, her ways of seeing the artistic world surrounding her, the blissful madness of a young twenty-year-old alone in Paris all make this a tresure. Find a copy. Share it.
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