You & Me: A Novel
  • You & Me: A Novel
  • You & Me: A Novel

You & Me: A Novel

5.0 2
by Padgett Powell
     
 

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Padgett Powell, author of the acclaimed The Interrogative Mood and “one of the few truly important American writers of our time” (Sam Lipsyte), returns with a hilarious Southern send-up of Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot.

Truly a master of envelope-pushing, post-postmodern American fiction, in a class with Nicholas Baker

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Overview

Padgett Powell, author of the acclaimed The Interrogative Mood and “one of the few truly important American writers of our time” (Sam Lipsyte), returns with a hilarious Southern send-up of Samuel Beckett’s classic Waiting for Godot.

Truly a master of envelope-pushing, post-postmodern American fiction, in a class with Nicholas Baker and Lydia Davis, Powell brilliantly blends the sublime, the trivial, and the oddball in You & Me, as two loquacious gents on a porch discuss all manner of subjects, from the mundane to the spiritual to the downright ridiculous.

At once outrageously funny and profound, You & Me is yet another brilliant, boundary-bursting masterwork, proving once again that, “there are few writers who understand both the beauty and the absurdity of language as well as Padgett Powell” (Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang) and that, “Padgett Powell is one of the best writers in America, and one of the funniest, too” (Ian Frazier).

You & Me: A Novel won the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Gary Shteyngart
“Padgett Powell’s You & Me, mixed with 750 ml of fine bourbon, is the most fun you can have in many states without getting arrested. Braver, tougher, smarter than most of the fiction supposedly pushing the envelope. Why? Because it actually means something.”
Kevin Wilson
“There are few writers who understand both the beauty and the absurdity of language as well as Padgett Powell. . . . These are Nobel-big concerns, presented the way all grand truths should be delivered, with humor and tenderness.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan
“This book is a rare thing: experimental writing with powerful narrative drive. I finished it feeling quieted—by its melancholic probing—and exhilarated by its comic style.”
Garden & Gun Magazine
"One of the South’s most distinctive voices. . . . Make[s] your brain dance in ways you never thought it could. . . . There’s a hallucinatory brilliance at work here . . . most of all, in the improbable and covert way that Powell cracks your heart."
NPR
“[Powell’s] characters might be all talk and no walk, but what wonderful talk it is. . . . Powell, in his recent work, has set his mind ablaze. And nothing but exquisite and deeply strange language is left to emerge from the ashes.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“…Hilarious, bizarre and absorbing … Echoes of everyone from Walt Whitman to Will Rogers, vaudeville to Wittgenstein…Powell can make the most barbed issues -the power of media, class resentment, private self-judgment and dread of death - slither through dialogue of zany simplicity.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Addictive, a plotless page-turner.”
Booklist
“A hilarious and engaging novel, with a strong sense of natural speech and life’s absurdities, by the author of the highly acclaimed The Interrogative Mood.”
BookForum
“Wonderful. . . . You & Me is by turns hilarious, depressing, gnomic, smutty, and just a far better Saturday night than anything to be had in Jacksonville and Baskersfield combined.”
Interview Magazine
“Deliciously human. . . . Powell creates dialogue so deftly that we feel we are sitting alongside these men, somehow caught up in their discussion. Slyly funny, sometimes silly, irreverent, impudent, and brash, Powell has crafted a conversation that is comically American, with a free and wild heart.”
Creative Loafing
“This is the hilarious work of a master in a late-career renaissance.”
Village Voice
“Extremely funny . . . reflective and poetic.”
Shelf Awareness
“Sit back and enjoy the ride. . . . The payoffs are marvelous. . . . Powell gets deeper and funnier every time out.”
GQ.com
“There’s a wild, improvisational spirit to Powell’s literary jazz. . . . You’re urged on by hilarious . . . digressions, the musical lilt of the vernacular. . . . Good fun.”
Oxford American
“Hilarious [and] moving.”
Portland Mercury
“Delightful. . . . Ripe with juicy, drunken, rambling revelations. . . . Powell’s wholly distinctive voice grabs you by the ear and sets you to laughing.”
Garden & Gun magazine
“One of the South’s most distinctive voices. . . . Make[s] your brain dance in ways you never thought it could. . . . There’s a hallucinatory brilliance at work here . . . most of all, in the improbable and covert way that Powell cracks your heart.”
Tampa Bay Times
“These old boys are Southern storytellers, masters of the gothic twist, the wry comeback. . . . Their voices become so vivid that reading the book begins to feel like eavesdropping—and a fine spell of eavesdropping it is.”
Vanity Fair
“[Written] with typical swaggering genius and ribald wit.”
Publishers Weekly
Powell (The Interrogative Mood) asks what happens to a novel when it’s stripped of exposition, setting, and plot. What remains is dialogue, the sort of ribald dialogue that Barry Hannah’s liars might cast out over the water, pining for sex, drink, and some answers. Here, two old nameless “weirdly agreeable dudes” talk in circles about suicide, childhood, and split-shot fishing weights, and wonder aloud if they might go to the “liquor bunker” or “go down to the creek and stare Despair down” in their “not upscale neighborhood.” They’re nearly as funny as Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon—an inevitable comparison for a duo who point out the word “action” is not even a verb. But Beckett’s characters are played by real men who move about a stage and fight with other players and wait with purpose. Our dime-store philosophers wait for no one but themselves “to engage the world bravely” and become men. No one arrives—not Pozzo, or Lucky, or even a messenger—yet the novel’s penetrating, playful words manage to “pick impossibly heavy shit up” and deliver what one of the characters calls “the perfect nonsense a real dream makes.” Agent: Cynthia Cannell, the Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Two unnamed, older, "weirdly agreeable dudes" in an unspecified city ("Somewhere between Bakersfield, California, and Jacksonville, Florida") engage in an endless dialog that emanates from a seemingly bottomless well of ennui and vague nostalgia. The setting is not quite timeless, however, and the political references to the George W. Bush administration already seem dated. Loosely modeled after Waiting for Godot, the entire text consists of aimless conversation between the two men, though there isn't quite a Godot-like figure in the book, except perhaps a recurring character they call Studio Becalmed. Like the author's much-talked-about (but likely little-read) The Interrogative Mood, composed entirely of questions, this is more of an intellectual exercise or literary stunt than a traditional novel. VERDICT At its best, You & Me is a compilation of entertaining snippets of clever, philosophical banter. At its worst, it's a collection of pretentious ramblings that don't quite hold together.—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062126146
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Pages:
194
Sales rank:
736,163
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

What People are saying about this

John Jeremiah Sullivan

“This book is a rare thing: experimental writing with powerful narrative drive. I finished it feeling quieted—by its melancholic probing—and exhilarated by its comic style.”

Kevin Wilson

“There are few writers who understand both the beauty and the absurdity of language as well as Padgett Powell. . . . These are Nobel-big concerns, presented the way all grand truths should be delivered, with humor and tenderness.”

Gary Shteyngart

“Padgett Powell’s You & Me, mixed with 750 ml of fine bourbon, is the most fun you can have in many states without getting arrested. Braver, tougher, smarter than most of the fiction supposedly pushing the envelope. Why? Because it actually means something.”

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