Write Naked

Write Naked

4.8 5
by Peter Gould

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Sixteen-year-old Victor, a thoughtful loner who tries to live his life "under the radar," wants to test out the saying "You have to be naked to write." When he sneaks off with an old Royal typewriter to his uncle's cabin deep in the Vermont woods and strips off his clothes, he expects Thoreau-like solitude. What he gets is something else—both funny and, as


Sixteen-year-old Victor, a thoughtful loner who tries to live his life "under the radar," wants to test out the saying "You have to be naked to write." When he sneaks off with an old Royal typewriter to his uncle's cabin deep in the Vermont woods and strips off his clothes, he expects Thoreau-like solitude. What he gets is something else—both funny and, as his high school English teacher likes to say, "transformative." For he discovers a face in the window watching him—Rose Anna, a homeschooled free spirit with an antique fountain pen and a passion to save the planet. Their unexpected encounter marks the beginning of an inspired writing partnership—and a relationship as timeless and eager as the Vermont woods in spring.

A strikingly original debut novel that introduces two storytellers with different kinds of tales: one—in Victor's unforgettable voice—a quirky, contemporary love story; the other—by Rose Anna—an ecological fantasy featuring a tiny heroic newt. Together, the teens explore the possibility of connections – to one another, the woods outside, and the world beyond.
Write Naked is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Victor, the 16-year-old protagonist of this belletristic first novel, has gone to his uncle's cabin in the Vermont woods to try out an aphorism he's seen, "You have to be naked to write"; there he meets Rose Anna, a home-schooled free spirit and fellow writer who is also 16. The two continue to meet and write together; Rose Anna also lectures him on Wicca and the environment. Their conversations rarely have the feel of genuine dialogue, and their nostalgia for the '60s (when both their mothers lived on communes) gets redundant. Often Victor, while sympathetic, seems overly earnest, as when he feels overwhelmed by Rose Anna's writing and thinks, "I need a metaphor." Rose Anna, meanwhile, is too wise, passionate and free of self-consciousness to be a believable teen character. Her story about global warming takes away from the flow of the narrative, and readers are unlikely to share Victor's high opinion of it. Ages 14-up. (June)

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Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Inside the cover of this sensationally-titled teen novel is an engaging, heartfelt story about two unusual kindred souls. Victor is heading to his uncle's cabin in the woods one day when he instinctively stops at a yard sale. The seller notices his interest in an old typewriter and gives it to him, telling Victor that the heavy machine has a story in it and the boy should draw it out. Victor's imagination is immediately captured. He finds a way to get the typewriter to his uncle's cabin—the cabin is primarily Victor's refuge, since his uncle has moved out of town—and sets about writing. Under amusing circumstances which have something to do with the book's title, he meets the captivating Rose Anna. A homeschooled teen Victor's age who must care for her severely depressed mother, Rose Anna sees writing as a way to express her concern for the world. Peter Gould successfully explores the inner workings and emotional connections of these sensitive teens. While the issues Rose Anna and Victor explore in their lives are often serious, Gould manages to maintain a good pace and keep the story from being weighty. In spite of its title, this book would be a good choice for all but the most conservative collections. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Jane Kenyon
Victor is a kid who likes to fly under the radar. At sixteen he admits he is still in "mytrying- to-figure-it-all-out phase." When Victor finds an old typewriter at a garage sale, he's sure there is a story in it. Lugging the typewriter to an abandoned cabin in the Vermont woods, Victor begins his journey of self-discovery. With the old Royal acting as friend and talisman, Victor sets out to test the theory that you have to be "naked to write." A curly-haired nature lover, Rose Anna, and her dog Dash surprise Victor one day. He has been detected! Using her grandmother's gold-plated fountain pen, Rose Anna joins Victor in writing their way to a special friendship, determining the meaning of "writing naked," and experiencing the wonder of first love. Writing Naked is a thoughtful novel exploring the idea of how writing can be selfdefining. We hear Victor's voice as he narrates the novel, and we hear Rose Anna's story as she shares her writing with Victor. Reviewer: Jane Kenyon
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Refreshingly lacking teen angst, Victor is a pensive, authentically innocent 16-year-old who seeks the isolated privacy of his family's Vermont cabin. He lugs an old Royal typewriter along with him and begins to write-in the buff-testing the idea that "you have to be naked to write." And it works; his words flow fast and smooth, until he spots a girl watching him, free-spirit Rose Anna. The teens meet at the cabin to write together, clothed and carefully respectful of one another, although Victor knows that Rose Anna also comes alone to "write naked." He is intrigued by her passion for nature and Wicca. Gould weaves a spell of nearly chaste sensuality, far more provocative than graphic sexuality, particularly in the emotionally charged yet controlled conclusion. Victor and Rose Anna are complex characters, coming to terms with the familial and personal forces shaping them into maturity. Despite minimal plot, the story holds readers' attention through their powerful character development and simmering romantic tension. Other aspects of the novel are less successful. The Vietnam vet who sells the teen the typewriter is overbearing as he holds forth on the immorality of war. Victor unflinchingly records his own flights of imagination, fleeting attention span, and faltering perceptions. In clumsy contrast, Rose Anna's story is a juvenile ecological fable of three newts traveling to a "summit meeting" on global warming. The didactic, condescending tone of her tale brings the exquisitely subtle intensity of the book to a screeching halt.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

Kirkus Reviews
Nudity, first love and global warming mesh-sometimes awkwardly-in this novel, the author's second (after Burnt Toast, 1971). Seventeen-year-old Victor meets homeschooled, unconventional Rose Anna at his uncle's cabin in the Vermont woods. Both have mothers who were part of the Vermont commune movement and both have taken to heart the adage "You have to be naked to write." Victor has an old typewriter with which he chronicles their budding romance and the minutiae of his own life; Rose Anna prefers a fountain pen and homemade ink to script an earnest but pedantic allegory about global warming. Their blossoming romance and Victor's growing awareness of the world and of other people come across as genuinely sweet and sometimes funny. The message within Rose Anna's story, however, as well as her obsession with a tragic commune fire long ago, sadly dilute Victor's narrative and result in an uneven read. Still, it is refreshing to find teen characters who can be naked in a cabin together and still want to write. (Fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
“Refreshingly lacking teen angst. Gould weaves a spell . . . particularly in the emotionally charged yet controlled conclusion.” —School Library Journal

“The engaging youthful narration is authentic yet rich with sensual detail and figurative language . . . . Young adult readers will not want to put down this exceptional debut.” — VOYA

“Gould offers a sophisticated novel featuring two cerebral teens.” —Booklist

“There is an authenticity . . . and burgeoning wisdom that celebrates youth in a way that is utterly plausible, subtly breathtaking and a privilege to behold.”—Rutland Herald

“WRITE NAKED is the story of a boy and a girl; a cabin and a dog; a typewriter and an old fountain pen; intertwined stories, a shared journey, and the future of our planet. Peter Gould — like his endearing protagonist — is now someone whom I'm dying to know.” —Richie’s Picks

“Peter Gould’s WRITE NAKED takes the reader on a sensual journey into the heart, mind, and soul of sixteen year old Victor. Gould¹s protagonist is painfully honest, disarmingly innocent, seductively endearing, and astoundingly patient. We are privileged to witness his awakening. And our own. Hunker down under the radar, undo your armor, and read it.” —Karen Hesse, author of the Newbery Medal book, OUT OF THE DUST

Write Naked appeals on several levels—most definitely as an offbeat romance but also as a story about a couple of sensitive teens making their way in the world.” —Bookslut.com

"I enjoyed WRITE NAKED alot . . . I liked how calm it was."—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
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File size:
253 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

  1April 17I was riding my mountain bike up Greenleaf Street toward where it ends at the woods. In Vermont a spring Saturday morning means yard sales. I must have passed five of them. I kept right on going. I had no money in my pocket, and I was on my way to the bike trails.There were cars parked on both sides of the street, and people getting out to check out the stuff: old cameras, beater bikes, half-wrecked chairs. I wove through them. But just where the street levels off a bit and you can take a breath, I stopped.There was this little brick house on the left with a yard sale sign in front, and that’s where I saw it, kind of tilted on the ground beside some army clothes, and a pile of sweaters someone had already mussed up. An old typewriter. It didn’t holler at me, but it almost felt like it did, or maybe it typed “victor” with six quick noisy strokes on its own keyboard.It was a big antique manual, all shiny black and made of heavy steel; you could tell that without picking it up. There was gold printing (ROYAL) above the keys. Down on both sides there were two little plate-glass windows where you could look into the works.I saw all this at a glance. I leaned my bike against a tree and squatted down and looked in one of the windows. There were all these levers, and hinges, and bars with little brass screws. It was a Writing Machine. No circuitry. No white plastic. Did they even have plastic back then? I bent down and heaved it up. It felt like it weighed more than my sister, Claire. She’s ten.This guy walked over to me. I had seen him once or twice before when I rode by, working around his house and yard. He had white hair and was wearing a checked flannel shirt. His eyes were kind of puddly and there were spots on his hands, but he had this nice smile, like your uncle holding two tickets to a Red Sox game behind his back.“You like old typewriters?” he said, after I put it back down.“Yeah, kind of. I mean, I like this one,” I said. “They don’t make them like this anymore.” (Shoot, I thought, that really sounded stupid.)“Do you want it?” he asked.“No, I don’t think so—” I started, meaning to explain that I didn’t have any money.He was way ahead of me. “You can have it, for free.” Was it my imagination, or was he like some high priest up on a mountaintop with “I have been expecting you, My Son; here is Your Typewriter.”“I couldn’t do that,” I said. “It’s for sale.”“Nobody wants it. Had it out last week, too. People don’t use ’em anymore. My wife used to do typing at home, she learned on this one, then she got an electric. And then the computer. She’s been dead five years.”“Oh,” I said. I didn’t know what else to say.He went on. “I sold the electric a long time ago, but I kept this one around. Works perfect. Take a look; it’s all cleaned up.”I put my face right down past the keys, there was this big opening like a half-pipe, where all the letters were lying side by side at the ends of their skinny metal arms and looking up at me upside down and backward. You could see it was all shiny where he’d scrubbed the letters—with a toothbrush, he told me—and there was an inky black ribbon, brand-new and hanging ready and straight where it went through a big silver clip. I pulled my head out and there were the keys, white enamel letters on round black buttons, each with a metal ring around it, and a long space bar with a low, worn spot where his dead wife’s right thumb had hit it about five million times.“Wow,” I said. “It’s beautiful.”I meant it.He looked down, still smiling. He made a loose fist with his right hand and play-punched my shoulder. “Somebody else appreciates it. That’s good. Go on; you take it home and go write a book. It’s got a book in it.”“A book?”“That’s why I kept it around,” he said. “Got a big story stuck in there, but I can’t get it out. I’m too old.”“Okay,” I said. “Thanks a lot.” Now why did I say that? I was just passing by on my bike. I didn’t need a typewriter. Another thing I didn’t need was my mouth saying something before I’ve even thought about it. Usually I’m careful about what I say, and do. I like to think things out first.The guy moved off to talk with another customer and left me sitting there beside that old writing machine. I was trying to catch up with what just happened. You know, you make what you think is a quick, harmless decision, and then the rest of your life gets immediately complicated in ways you can’t even imagine. It was like some mysterious hand waved to me from a train, and I jumped on, without thinking, even though I didn’t know where the train was going or who the hand belonged to.And now I had a problem. Getting the typewriter home. Not only was it big and heavy but it was embarrassing, too. Who even bothers anymore with stuff that old and clunky? And I didn’t want to call my mom or dad and say hey, could you come pick us up? Yeah, us. Me and my typewriter. I already wanted this old ROYAL to be hidden, as if keeping it secret was the first step to, I don’t know, getting the story out. Yeah, I knew the guy meant it as a joke, but still—I looked up at the blue sky. I needed to think.I like logic problems, like the one with the guy and the river and the little rowboat and the dog and the chicken and the bucket of grain. You know, where you have to figure out how to ferry everyone across two at a time without them eating each other? I also like it when real problems—the kind you have to solve step by step—drop out of nowhere—well, somewhere—into my lap.

I’m sixteen. Just. I don’t drive. In Vermont you can get your permit when you’re fifteen, but I don’t have mine yet. And even if I had it, you can’t drive alone with a permit. My brother Will teases me about this, but I’m not in a hurry. I remember the scene in the kitchen after Will cracked up Mom’s car, and I’m not anxious to replay that anytime soon. Anyway I like the anonymity of a bike. I’ll do almost anything not to be noticed.It’s funny, cause I’m named for somebody who really wanted to be noticed. The Victor my folks had in mind when they named me was this singer-songwriter in South America who always fought for the poor and downtrodden. People who didn’t have voices. His picture’s hanging on our living room wall.He was a national hero in Chile. He was so famous that when the army bombed their own White House, shot their president, and took over, Victor was the next person they went looking for. He could have run away and saved himself, but he stayed. They herded him and about two thousand other people into a soccer stadium, then brought him out in front of all those people and pounded his hands to a bloody pulp with their rifle butts. He was on his knees. They screamed, Sing, you son of a whore, so he did. But he didn’t do it alone. As soon as he started, everyone in the whole stadium stood up and sang with him. They were all crying. Then the soldiers tortured him and dumped his dead body out on the street. His music has been playing in my house since before I was born.I live with my mom and dad, and Claire. My brother Will goes to college. He picked a school really far away—I think on purpose—and we can’t afford to have him come home often. He hasn’t quite moved out of his room yet, but I’m next in line for it. I snoop around in there when I’m home alone. I guess I know just about every secret thing he’s got hidden there.Sometimes I sit in his big easy chair—another yard sale special—and read his college books. Textbooks in college cost a lot of money, way more than they’re worth. It’s some kind of scam, I think. So Will sells most of his to other students when he’s done, but he holds on to all the books about how native people live or used to live. He’s led me to Ishi and Lame Deer and Black Elk Speaks and Tristes Tropiques. That last one? It has a French title, but it’s in English. It’s worth it just to read the last chapter. I mean, if you want to read about inertia, entropy, and the end of the human mind, it’s all there in one paragraph.When I sit in Will’s chair and read, it’s like I’ve joined this special club. He said once, “Victor, if you read this stuff, you can save people in the past from drowning. It’s like time is a river, and it’s nighttime, and you can hear people calling, Help, we’re disappearing! So you stop and listen. That’s how you save them.”He tells me stuff like that, but he doesn’t like to explain. I have to figure out what he means for myself. Maybe that’s why I got off my bike. Maybe that old ROYAL did call me. Maybe you can save things, too.Copyright © 2008 by Peter Gould

Meet the Author

PETER GOULD is a youth theater director, a physical comedy performer, and a playwright whose works have been performed all over the world. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

PETER GOULD is a youth theater director, a physical comedy performer, and a playwright whose works have been performed all over the world. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Write Naked 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
GreekCowgirl More than 1 year ago
This book is for writers and readers. It is an amazing story of a boy with a story to get out of a typewriter and a girl with a fiction story to write with her fountain pen. The en dis probably not what you think will happen... It is so much better!! This is an awesome compelling book i encourage everyone to read!!
Oscar Carrillo More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In a world full of technology, Victor is elated when he finds an old Royal typewriter at a garage sale. Doesn't matter that he isn't a writer.

Not one to hang out much with friends, Victor comes across an old book while going through items from his mom's hippie community living days. It recommends one write naked in order to find the "story within."

He figures he has nothing to lose...until he looks out the window to find he's being spied on. By a girl.

Full of voice and innocence, WRITE NAKED takes the reader on Victor's journey of self-discovery of a world he didn't realize existed, until he allows himself to stop and pay a bit more attention.

While I found myself annoyingly patronized by the theme of global warming and the "world-coming-to-an-end" lecture, I did enjoy the voices and the bonding of the two main characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was amazing. i would defineitly recommend it!!