Before there was a Carrie Bradshaw…

Who among us can resist the story of a quick-witted, beautiful American girl in Paris? 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. Life and its myriad experiences are what Sally Jay desires — whether it’s a married lover, an acting career, or just another evening with fellow expats discussing art with a capital A.

First published in 1958, around the time Dundy’s marriage to theater critic Kenneth Tynan was dissolving, The Dud Avocado was enthusiastically praised by everyone from Gore Vidal to Groucho Marx. In the afterword of the handsome New York Review Books Classics reissue, Dundy, now 80, writes, “When people ask me how autobiographical the book is I say, all the impulsive, outrageous things my heroine does, I did. All the sensible things she did, I made up.”

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