Portrait by Jim McDermott

Portrait by Jim McDermott

It was a hot, peaceful, optimistic sort of day in September. It was around 11 in the morning, I remember, and I was drifting down the Boulevard St. Michel, thoughts rising in my head like little puffs of smoke, when suddenly a voice bellowed into my ear: “Sally Jay Gorce! What the hell? Well, for Christ’s sake, can this really be our own little Sally Jay Gorce?” I felt a hand ruffling my hair and I swung around, furious at being so rudely awakened.

This is the opening paragraph of Elaine Dundy’s delightful first novel, The Dud Avocado. First published in 1958, it is based on the author’s memories of life as a young American in Paris. Elaine Rita Brimberg was born in New York in 1921, and later moved to Europe to become an actress. She married the legendary English theatre critic, Kenneth Tynan, and moved in glamourous circles. As Elaine found success in writing, her marriage began to deteriorate. After their divorce in 1964, Elaine returned to New York and worked in journalism, writing acclaimed biographies of Peter Finch and Elvis Presley. Her biography, Life Itself, was published in 2001. She died at her Los Angeles home on May 1st, 2008.

To learn more about Elaine Dundy, click here

Read an extract from The Dud Avocado

Read an extract from Life Itself

My review of Elvis And Gladys

A Tupelo friend remembers Elaine Dundy, here