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You & Me: A Novel [Hardcover]

Padgett Powell

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Book Description

July 23 2012

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (July 23 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006212613X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062126139
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #552,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“[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.” (NPR)

“The novel’s penetrating, playful words manage to ‘pick impossibly heavy sh*t up’ and deliver what one of the characters calls ‘the perfect nonsense a real dream makes.’” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“[Written] with typical swaggering genius and ribald wit.” (Vanity Fair)

“Hilarious [and] absorbing. . . . 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.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Addictive, a plotless page-turner.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“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.” (Booklist)

“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.” (BookForum)

“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.” (Interview Magazine)

“This is the hilarious work of a master in a late-career renaissance.” (Creative Loafing)

“Extremely funny . . . reflective and poetic.” (Village Voice)

“Sit back and enjoy the ride. . . . The payoffs are marvelous. . . . Powell gets deeper and funnier every time out.” (Shelf Awareness)

“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.” (GQ.com)

“Great fun. . . . Irreverent. . . . Witty. . . . Compelling.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Hilarious [and] moving.” (Oxford American)

“Delightful. . . . Ripe with juicy, drunken, rambling revelations. . . . Powell’s wholly distinctive voice grabs you by the ear and sets you to laughing.” (Portland Mercury)

“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.” (Garden & Gun magazine)

“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.” (Tampa Bay Times)

“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.” (Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story)

“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.” (Kevin Wilson, bestselling author of The Family Fang)

“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.” (John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead and Blood Horses)

“…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.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

From the Back Cover

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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You're on fire, dude. Aug. 12 2012
By las cosas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two stand-up comics without a script. Just riffing back and forth on anything two white males, somewhere between Jacksonville, Florida, and Bakersfield, California, can think up. And that covers a considerable amount of territory, from Jayne Mansfield's natural endowments to why anyone thought they could sell something called oleomargarine. Mildly politically incorrect, using a sometimes salty vocabulary Amazon wouldn't allow in a review, the language is simply over-the-top original.

Comparing it to Beckett's Waiting for Godot is misleading. Both works consist entirely of the dialog between two male characters, and in each case the subject matter stutters and wanders, but Godot is as much movement and silence as dialog. Powell revs up the velocity fairly high, leaving little room for anything other than the dialog. There are made-up words, convoluted logic and a verbal interplay I've seldom encountered. It is very much of the United States in the early 21st century, yet it is also any two old guys getting together for a gab. "Mine is the weak strength of bluster."

Each section is labeled "&" because each is just another riff, another of the same, and the dialog is cumulative. We are introduced to Studio Becalmed early in the book, and he bobs back up every few pages, often with his love, Jayne Mansfield. "We have need of adventure. Let us have one. Summon Studio Becalmed." This circling of people and things (lard-and-hair sandwich is my favorite) adds to the pleasure since you can see these inanities from various angles. I mean who knew that you could include lard-and-hair sandwich in at least a dozen scenarios?

Many words are made up, but you always know what is meant, and feel that now you have read it, of course such a word is real...
"The base percentage of crackpottage remains the same."
"leg-sawing racket-specializing insects"
"Do you feel free? I feel as free as a green jujube being wedged from its red brothers in the box. Spring forth, jujube. Jujube the man!"
"When I take that multivitamin without eating something I feel a little upchucky."

And to finish this review I'll give you a larger chunk of Powellisms:

Did we party last night?
Not, to my knowledge, beyond the usual, the genteel talktail party we always hold. Why?
Because I notice that all the knobs to the stove are off the stove.
They are gone?
No, on the kitchen floor.
Neatly or scattered?
I would say they are in a configuration that is between neat and scattered. As if they fell from the stove behaving like apples falling from the tree are wont to behave: not far.
That is an interesting idea, stove knobs as fruit of the stove.
Well, the fruit is on the ground.
I am without answer.
A stove-knob burglar came in and was frightened off the booty by something?
One of us sleepwalks and likes to pull appliances apart? Were you punished for playing with the stove as a wee?
Did another appliance molest the stove - did the toaster oven pull her knobs off? Did a bull come into our china shop? I would like to know who coined that conceit, the bull in the china shop, it is not bad at all.
I wonder if a bull has ever actually got into a china shop.
I would think, in the long reach of time, it not unlikely, at least once. A bull running, say, down a street in Spain could easily detour into a fine shop. Remember your laws of thermodynamics. I'll say it was Dickens, Sterne, one of those guys.
I am a little depressed.
I am too.
Nothing novel.
No.
We should reknob the stove.
I'm going to. I left them on the floor only for evidentiary purposes. The crime will not be solved, we might as well sweep up the evidence.
That could be our motto for Life. Life will not be explained; sweep away the evidence.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artful Inanities Aug. 13 2012
By JSC Siow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Whimsical is what I'd call this volume. Comprising a choice selection of non sequitur-ish conversations between 2 ole geezers sitting on a porch in an unnamed dilapidated podunk place with little more than time and liquor-fueled imagination/memory as inspiration, their inane musings embody the best of what's commonly called shootin' the breeze ... which, depending on one's mood, can seem either depressingly trivial and pointless or archly funny and delightfully snippy commentary on the absurdities of life. An easy read that can be finished in one afternoon, this was a welcome and amusing distraction.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious reader Aug. 28 2012
By Curious reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You and Me by Padgett Powell was so funny at times that you doubled over with laughter and at other times you were gut socked with reality. Both laughter and reality crept up on you as you read. I plan to reread and savor this one.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I been hooked Aug. 3 2012
By mllecheree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard W. Kopperdahl, your review of the book is from a sample? Well, if that's the standard . . . .

In the first third of the book, Padgett Powell displays genius in his use of the English language. I don't care that it has less plot than an average episode of "Seinfeld" -- the book is so hilarious I had to quit reading it before bed. "Seinfeld," on the other hand, I can watch without the smiles and giggles engendered interfering with my beauty sleep. I'm looking forward to continuing the read.

Oh, wait. Richard W. Kopperdahl, your 3-star review was actually about the book's marketing? It made you look, didn't it?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Weird Sept. 27 2012
By bisrosolan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You & Me is a deliciously weird stream of consciousness that is hard to put down. There seems to be no central plot, but it still provides the reader with a story that feels like it is always moving forward. At times, it feels almost like voyeuristic glimpse into a private world shared by two elderly friends. I wanted the book to continue on further than it did as it felt that time with the characters was too short.

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