Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Dud Indeed

I wanted to like this. I liked some of it a lot. Much of it was terrible. Elaine Dundy I suppose had read Henry James--Daisy Miller, The American, The Ambassadors--and figured "Books like this can be fun in the right hands!" Her attempt to infuse a hip bobby-soxer sensibility into The Master's innocents abroad schematic is uneven at best.

The Dud Avacado got raving accolades, and continues to generate fans. I'm not sure why. I suppose it's because a woman wrote frankly about casual sex so long ago, and this was likely shocking to some and liberating to many. In an age, however, when women are filming themselves having sex and uploading the mpegs onto the Internets, this novel is a big yawn. The narrator is supremely annoying, falling in and out of love routinely, spending her uncle's money on booze, failing to note that she's being manipulated by more sophisticated Europeans and other expat Yanks. Spoiled rich kids getting bamboozled while traveling around Europe are not sympathetic characters IMHO.

There are flashes of brilliance, and quite a few F. Scott-worthy descriptive flourishes. Dundy can certainly write. Perhaps her portraits of bohemians, artistes, and poseurs were once fresh and vibrant, but now they're tired cliches of the sort most recently trotted out during that Freedom Fries nonsense. There's simply no there there in this book, which is as relevant to our age as Leave it to Beaver.

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