Thursday, January 26, 2012

Elaine Dundy's "The Old Man and Me"

The late and great Elaine Dundy is a very interesting woman, who lived near Book Soup and was a customer as well.  Little did I know of her writing career till I read "The Dud Avocado" which is fantastic by the way.  So her history is fascinating in that she was married to British theater critic great Kenneth Tynan and also wrote the first serious in depth biography on Elvis.

So of course "The Old Man and Me' would be of interest, but beyond that, it is quite a remarkable novel on various levels.  The thing that really caught my attention is that she really got into the language of the British and its difference from American English.   Two, she has some knowledge (of course) on the British personality and how that works with the American personality.  And three, this is a really smart novel about how cultures merge - especially in early 1960's London.   The main character resembles a much sweeter Patricia Highsmith twisted character who is dealing with identity and revenge of sorts.  She knows what she wants, but does not know why she wants it.  And that is the main problem with "Honey Flood."   She goes out to seduce, but she gets seduced and its a weird journey from naive to knowing.  

The book captures the culture of London in the early 1960's -before the Beatles and in some ways London itself is one of the characters in this novel.   It's a great piece of London literature. 


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