Herewith this month's guest post from Jeff Kamin, moderator of Minneapolis' coolest book club series, Books & Bars, which operates in partnership with the wonderful independent bookstore, Magers & Quinn. Btw, check out their blog too. This month Books & Bars took a look at The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy. And look below for info on meeting Jeff at next weekend's Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show (and hey, if you're there, stop by the Harper booth to find out about this Betsy-Tacy series I've been rambling on about...) Read on for discussion of some old-school chick lit.
“Engage me in violent conversation.” – Sally Jay Gorce, The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.
“I’m not looking for a friend in a protagonist.” – Jay, Books & Bars sponsor/bookseller
When you read a novel are you looking to like the protagonist? If you do not, can you still enjoy the story, the writing, and appreciate stepping into the shoes of one you may disagree with or even dislike?
We discussed The Dud Avocado which is considered as one of the first examples of modern day “chick lit”, which may sound negative but sparked quite a debate. When we tried to define “chick lit”, one regular, dubbed The Hater, said “I can’t define it, but I know when I see it.”
But if you’re going to read it, might as well start from the beginning, right? We’re still not sure if the term is acceptable, applicable or even matters. Does a woman writing a novel get pigeonholed into a marketing category with a bright pastel-colored cover featuring a poodle, high heels, shopping bags or the like?
Dundy had said the novel is the most like life of all the art forms. It’s unpredictable but realistic in its reporting of actual conversations. The technique she used for The Dud Avocado was the old western cliché of the stranger coming to town or the fish-out-of-water, in which the protagonist takes the reader with them on their new journey and experiences.
An interesing saying which was echoed in The Dud Avocado is that the first generation made the money, the second spent it and the third generation became artists.
Overall the women of the club appreciated the book more than the men, but we did like it for the most part, though the ending left some wanting more. More liberation? More feminism? More than could be an expected of a woman in the early 1950s perhaps?
Will any of you readers/booksellers/publishers be attending the Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Fair?
If so, drop me a line and we can meet. I’ll also be co-hosting a young booksellers cocktail party at the Bulldog in St. Paul that Saturday eve to discuss how Books & Bars is reinventing the book club.
Become a fan of Books & Bars on Facebook.
Thanks and see you next month as we try to solve the mystery of
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.
Books & Bars -- Reinventing the book club every second Tuesday