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You & Me

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Overview

The cult hit The Interrogative Mood—a Best Book of the Year selection by Amazon.com, GQ, The Believer, Time OutNew York, and elsewhere—reminded readers that Padgett Powell is one of the enduring stars of American fiction, an electric novelist with a pitch-perfect ear for the way Americans talk and the strange things we say and believe. Now he returns with a hilarious Southern send-up of Samuel Beckett's classic Waiting for Godot, and we enter the world of the sublime and trivial...

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You & Me

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Overview

The cult hit The Interrogative Mood—a Best Book of the Year selection by Amazon.com, GQ, The Believer, Time OutNew York, and elsewhere—reminded readers that Padgett Powell is one of the enduring stars of American fiction, an electric novelist with a pitch-perfect ear for the way Americans talk and the strange things we say and believe. Now he returns with a hilarious Southern send-up of Samuel Beckett's classic Waiting for Godot, and we enter the world of the sublime and trivial as only Powell can envision it.

Two loquacious men sit talking on a porch. Funny and profound, daft and cogent, they argue about love and sex, how best to live and die, the merits of Miles Davis and Cadillacs and Hollywood starlets of yore, underused clichés, false truisms, and the meaning of nihilism. Together, they shoot the shit—and then they go on shooting it long after it's dead.

Ribald and roaring, You & Me is an exuberant and very funny novel from a master of American fiction at the top of his game.

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
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."
Vanity Fair
“[Written] with typical swaggering genius and ribald wit.”
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."
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."
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."
Kirkus Reviews
Two Southern men riff, rant and trade non sequiturs in the latest literary stunt from Powell (Creative Writing/U. of Florida). Following 2009's The Interrogative Mood, a novel in which every sentence was a question, this slim novel is built out of brief chapters written exclusively in dialogue between two men sitting and biding their time "[s]omewhere between Bakersfield, California, and Jacksonville, Florida." Similarly, their conversation topics can and do go anywhere: Jayne Mansfield's cleavage, barber poles, war, sanity, Southern lore, existential notions of identity and more. The banter recalls Waiting for Godot, though the chatter here is more pun-driven than absurdist. When Powell gets deep into wordplay, the book can be great fun, as chapters that begin as sober discussions of, say, Johnny Weissmuller collapse into ridiculous lines of dialogue like, "We could go down to Blockbuster in the vinegar and get Tarzan." For all the verbal mugging, though, Powell does raise some provocative questions: "What is the big picture?" "Why do we talk?" "Are we free?" What does it mean to live today like it's the last day of your life? Clear answers to such heady questions aren't forthcoming, of course, and the novel is bound to frustrate anybody looking for a conventional narrative arc. What this chicken-fried Phaedo does have going for it is its verve and enthusiasm for language--every page reflects Powell's restless urge to make up words, to drill into them, to apply new meanings to them and sometimes just to revel in the sound of language. For instance: "Be neat, be brave, be Buster-Brown bustamente." "What does that mean?" "I do not know. But does it not sound right?" If you're willing to at least consider that question, spending time with Powell's rambles can be great fun. An irreverent, goofball, witty and surprisingly compelling experiment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594459590
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Padgett Powell is the author of five novels, including The Interrogative Mood and Edisto, which was nominated for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Little Star, and The Paris Review, and he has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and the Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he teaches writing at MFA@FLA, the writing program of the University of Florida.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2013

    To lance

    Hey from kennedy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Azul...

    Baby u got locked got to res five

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