Girl by the Road at Night: A Novel of Vietnam [NOOK Book]

Overview


David Rabe’s award-winning Vietnam plays
have come to embody our collective fears, doubts, and tenuous grasp of a war that continues to haunt. Partially written upon his return from the war, Girl by the Road at Night is Rabe’s first work of fiction set in Vietnam—a spare and poetic narrative about a young soldier embarking on a tour of duty and the Vietnamese prostitute he meets in country.

Private Joseph ...
See more details below
Girl by the Road at Night: A Novel of Vietnam

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.65
BN.com price

Overview


David Rabe’s award-winning Vietnam plays
have come to embody our collective fears, doubts, and tenuous grasp of a war that continues to haunt. Partially written upon his return from the war, Girl by the Road at Night is Rabe’s first work of fiction set in Vietnam—a spare and poetic narrative about a young soldier embarking on a tour of duty and the Vietnamese prostitute he meets in country.

Private Joseph Whitaker, with Vietnam deployment papers in hand, spends his last free weekend in Washington, DC, drinking, attending a peace rally, and visiting an old girlfriend, now married. He observes his surroundings closely, attempting to find reason in an atmosphere of hysteria and protest, heightened by his own anger. When he arrives in Vietnam, he happens upon Lan, a local girl who submits nightly to the American GIs with a heartbreaking combination of decency and guile. Her family dispersed and her father dead, she longs for a time when life meant riding in water buffalo carts through rice fields with her brother. Whitaker’s chance encounter with Lan sparks an unexpected, almost unrecognized, visceral longing between two people searching for companionship and tenderness amid the chaos around them.

In transformative prose, Rabe has created an atmosphere charged with exquisite poignancy and recreated the surreal netherworld of Vietnam in wartime with unforgettable urgency and grace. Girl by the Road at Night is a brilliant meditation on disillusionment, sexuality, and masculinity, and one of Rabe’s finest works to date.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A]n erotic love story about two young people from opposite ends of the earth caught up in events far beyond their control….a meditation on the devastating effects armed conflict has on society, and on the psychological and emotional toll it exacts from soldiers and civilians alike….darkly comic…Rabe’s portrait is multidimensional and engaging…he reveals himself to be as gifted a novelist as he is a playwright….Girl by the Road at Night is Rabe’s cry, and it deserves to be heard.” —Philip Caputo, The New York Times Book Review

“A real piece of art, David Rabe’s skillful, mature Girl by the Road at Night tracks the deep interplay of sex and violence in two lives, in two cultures, and in the human urge towards deliverance. With rich supportive images of cosmetics and pajamas, and insects, rats and snakes, it elicits both tender and reptile emotions. It’s a story of American-style innocence gaining a slice of redemption at a huge price. Don’t hesitate to read it.” —Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Writing in the Sand

“Nobody writes like David Rabe. Nobody. He has a supernatural ability to tap into the hardwiring of his characters and render their impulses in language that is at once startlingly precise and dreamily off the wall. Rabe's vision of Vietnam, from his great early plays to this strange, dark rapturous sort-of love story, has a tragic consistency: the beveled innocence of the young American soldier meeting an incomprehensible Otherness that can't be turned away from or forgotten. I loved Girl by the Road at Night, and I can't wait to read it again.” —Anthony Giardina, author of White Guys

“By turns intimate, brutal, and mordant, Girl by the Road at Night illuminates the confusion of one raw youth as he confronts the larger confusions of war.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of The Names of the Dead

“Rabe never romanticizes his characters. This is no Romeo-and-Juliet story of unrequited love and desire. Instead, Whitaker and Lan play out their roles in both tender and brutal ways. A powerful statement about sex, war and identity.” —Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
The lives of an American GI and a Vietnamese prostitute briefly intersect in the early years of the Vietnam war. Known primarily as a playwright, Rabe (Dinosaurs on the Roof, 2009, etc.) delivers his first Vietnam novel. When Pfc. Whitaker, assigned to Fort Meade, receives his orders to ship out for Vietnam, his life starts to border on the surreal. He gets drunk, wanders the streets of D.C. and attends an antiwar rally. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Quach Ngoc Lan lives something of a parallel life, selling her body to help support her family and, for the moment, blissfully ignorant of the impending arrival of Whitaker. For the first half of the novel, Rabe writes antiphonal chapters, weaving two separate narratives that help introduce us to his two main characters, whose lives are defined only by their separation. Each is obsessed with sex, Whitaker as an escape from facing what he feels might be his impending death, and Lan as a means to an end. When Whitaker finally arrives in Vietnam, it's fated that his path should cross with that of Lan. He becomes smitten both with her beauty and her sexual skill. She, too, finds Whitaker different from her other encounters with American GIs, more vulnerable-more tender and more enigmatic. Rabe's Vietnamese characters tend to speak a pidgin poetry that at times can verge on the incomprehensible: "No babysan can come. Numba ten. Beg money. Not nice. Other GI no like boucoup babysan talk GI-him eating-?Gimme money, gimme money.' Numba ten." Rabe never romanticizes his characters. This is no Romeo-and-Juliet story of unrequited love and desire. Instead, Whitaker and Lan play out their roles in both tender and brutal ways. A powerful statement about sex, war and identity. Agent: Deborah Schneider/Gelfman Schneider
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439167151
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 523,069
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

DAVD RABE has been hailed as one of America’s greatest living playwrights. He is the author of many widely performed plays, including The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Sticks and Bones, In the Boom Boom Room, Streamers, Hurlyburly, and The Dog Problem. Four of his plays have been nominated for the Tony Award, including one win for Best Play. He is the recipient of an Obie Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Drama Desk Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, among others. His numerous screenwriting credits include I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can, Casualties of War, Hurlyburly, and The Firm

Rabe is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Dinosaurs on the Roof and Recital of the Dog, and a collection of short stories, A Primitive Heart. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Rabe lives with his family in Northwest Connecticut.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


1

Consider, first of all, that Pfc Whitaker awakes in his Fort Meade, Maryland, barracks in the early morning, sweating. He stares through unshifting, dust-speckled air and sees beams of rough-hewn wood. Looking at their splintering surfaces and thinking of the long, barren days ahead, the hours of his final weekend of freedom in which he has nothing to do, he feels sad. He feels like a man who’s been ordered to leave the earth, his destination the moon. He must live in Vietnam for a year.

In the latrine he flushes a bug down the toilet and his mood is reflected in the insect’s futile flailing. The flood and dark of the drain take it away. He wonders, Does it scream?

Now he paces slowly in the hall and Sharon is only a feeble flickering in some small corner of his brain. He does not really see her perfect legs and hard, creamy little tits. She is unremembered. He sees his moving feet on the floor. He does not see her black hair that lay stuck in sweat to her lips. She spoke of Wall Street, of the stock market, as if she understood what she was saying. He does not remember her hot buttocks burning in his hands. She sucked blood from his throat, coming. Pacing, he crosses his arms. He does not remember. His genitals stir, his prick nearly grows.

He is thinking of going to Washington, D.C. There is to be a peace march, he’s heard. A protest against this war. I will protest, he thinks, knowing he lies, though he has a truckload of urges and reasons. He will see the monuments to Lincoln and George Washington. He will see the crowds. He will go to the Washington Monument and look up its long, thin length. He feels the edges and tentacles of other thoughts stirring. He shuts them out. He showers and dresses in wrinkled clothing, yet he places a carefully folded tie in his pocket and he buffs his already shiny shoes.

Crossing to his footlocker, he rummages among papers and socks. There are those on post who say a man is a fool to go to Vietnam. Not many, but some, their voices smug, bitter, secretive. It makes him ache to hear them. In a blind, unspeakable wish for denial, he listens. Is it to hear more today that he is going to travel? Is it to risk hearing, finally, a word, theory, fact, or statistic that will make him believe? Does he hope to believe? Or is it to prove them foolish, to prove by being among them a full day and finding nothing in all their placards, slogans, and cries, that there is in fact nothing there to find?

From his locker, he takes a copy of his orders, which he folds precisely to fit his pocket as he moves toward the door.

Only those men on KP, CQ, or guard are in the company area—all others having departed on passes at the end of the Friday workday—so he sees no one as he crosses the small space of worn grass between the barracks and the white, shedlike headquarters building. He opens the frayed and patched screen door. Thornberg, the CQ, is tilted and twitching in uneasy sleep at the desk, an open comic book teetering on his limp hands. Whitaker stands a moment, thinking. Then he takes his pass from its slot in the green rectangular pass book before adding his name and time of departure to the long list of other names and times already scribbled onto the blocks of the sign-out sheet. He tiptoes out into the white wind. He puts the card of his pass in his billfold and shoves his billfold deep into his right-hip pocket.

Far up the gray road, past the few trees, a bright green bench stands beneath a faded bus stop sign. He makes a fist with each hand, and thumps his chest. He begins to jog.

© 2010 David Rabe

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 4, 2010

    Beautiful, lyrical book

    Rabe, one of America's leading playwrights, brings his Vietnam experiences to bear upon this timely moving book about the horrors of war and the possibilities of love.

    Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)