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And Now You Can Go: A Novel


And Now You Can Go: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9781400032419
ISBN10: 1400032415
Condition: Standard
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Author Q & A

Q: In your novel, there?s a character called the R.O.T.C. boy, who puts tacks in his face to, as he explains it, "Show his devotion" to Ellis, the narrator. Please tell me you don?t know anyone like this.

A: When I was much younger, I knew a guy who...well, let?s just say he was capable of that kind of thing. He was nice enough, but I do occasionally think about him now and worry. I hope he?s resting comfortably, wherever he is, and hope he doesn?t mind my borrowing that detail from him.

Q: The action of the book begins on the first page when Ellis is held captive in Riverside Park by a man with a gun. How did you decide to structure the novel that way?

A: I read a lot of plays — Ibsen and Strindberg?s in particular — because I love the way plays seem to begin at the last possible moment. That?s why, in some ways, this book reads like a play — everything is set in motion by the first encounter, when things fall apart, and after that, it?s about how things fall back into order.

Q: The book is about Ellis?s life being threatened by a stranger, but it?s also about how the people around Ellis react to what?s happened to her. We expect it to be about how she personally deals with the trauma, but it?s just as much about how a small community of people deals with it, isn?t it?

A: It?s how young people in New York deal with it too — which is different from what might happen in other places. There?s that sense that something like the hold-up at gunpoint that Ellis experiences is eventually bound to happen, and that it might be your own fault if it does. So Ellis gets an education about the strengths of the people around her, or the lack thereof, and about their assumptions and actions when pushed into a corner. In that way it?s about the social fabric, but it?s also about rage, which is the most common sort of tear in that fabric. In many ways, I think this novel is about the way everyone — you, me, Ellis, other characters in the book — thrusts their rage, whatever its source, on others and how they deal with the rage thrust upon them by others. I think — well, I hope — some of the humor in the book comes from the discrepancy between what we want and what we ask for. I guess I didn?t make it sound funny just now, but I swear it is!

Q: Tell us about Ellis.

A: Ellis is the daughter of immigrants, her father Polish and her mother Italian. Her mother always imagined that when she came to the United States she?d land first on Ellis Island and blow the Statue of Liberty a kiss. Instead when she finally arrived, she landed in Honolulu. Thus her first daughter became Ellis. And her parents being so newly American has a lot to do with her own personality. I have a surprising number of first-generation American friends whose parents are from Cuba, Mexico, Norway, or Ethiopia. A lot of them shunned their parents? advice when they were younger because they felt that their experiences were, well, foreign, and therefore irrelevant. As they get older, though, they find themselves embracing their parents? cultures and wisdom. And Ellis is on the cusp of that realization.

Q: Halfway through the book, Ellis leaves on a medical mission to the Philippines. How did you decide to take the book there?

A: I wrote the book without an outline and without really knowing what would happen next. In a way, I wanted to live it as Ellis was living it. When I got halfway through, though, I thought: Okay, now what?

I live in Northern California, where there?s a large Filipino population, and I?ve met a few Filipino doctors and nurses who return to the Philippines every year to offer free medical help. Some of the most needed procedures — because of the Philippines? proximity to the equator and the deficit of sunglasses — are cataract operations. So Ellis goes with her mother, a nurse, to reflect, to defrost, and...please save me from making some awful allusions to sight, regaining it, etc.

Q: What writers or books influenced you in writing And Now You Can Go?

A: When I look back at the writers who I?ve read most thoroughly, I?m pretty surprised myself. Why have I read everything Philip Roth?s done, for example? It?s hard to pin down my appreciation, and it?s harder to see whether or not he?s been an influence. But I do love his anger, and how quickly and effortlessly it can turn hilarious. But I was also rediscovering Mary Robison while writing this book, and her work probably rubbed off on me in various ways.

Q: Naturally, because the gun scene and the events thereafter seem so real — even the absurdity of events in the wake of the assault is perfect — people will ask if this is based on real events. Is it?

A: Well, I lived in New York for eight years. If you take enough walks in the park, especially pre-Giuliani, chances are you might have an experience or two. I guess I?ll leave it at that.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Patrick Simpson, September 23, 2007 (view all comments by Patrick Simpson)
This little novel has an interesting story arch; it begins big and morphs into an MTV/talking-with-a-friend pace the rest of the way. As the protagonist tries to make sense of her life after she was taken right to the brink of a woman's worst nightmare, I could not help but root for her. So many people try to care about her, but not so much that they forget their own narcissism. This rebuilding of a soul one tiny stone at a time is a small story, well worth the read for the warmth and familiarity this writer brings to its pages.
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Product Details

Vida, Vendela
Anchor Books
Young women
Mothers and daughters
Domestic fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
September 2004
Grade Level:
8.04x5.24x.56 in. .49 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

And Now You Can Go: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Anchor Books/Doubleday - English 9781400032419 Reviews:
"Review" by , "It's a good thing Vida makes her fiction debut with this novel instead of a story collection: she takes getting used to, but it's worthwhile....Hilarious and touching, icily removed, yet bracingly real."
"Review" by , "The end, unfortunately, arrives just as the book began — abruptly — and the reader longs for something more. Nevertheless, this remains an intriguing and auspicious debut."
"Review" by , "Steeped in her wild cynicism, [Ellis] also finds the grace to reach beyond herself, and that surprising combination is what makes this first novel unforgettable."
"Review" by , "Vida's blessedly economical first novel, And Now You Can Go, is...written by a woman who's cleareyed enough to see around and beyond her own heroine."
"Review" by , "There's plenty of mordant humor...and oddball characters who leave Post-It notes in verse or profess devotion by pushing tacks into their faces, but, even as a study in dislocation, Ellis's trajectory seems somewhat arbitrary."
"Review" by , "As Ellis gradually returns to life, her unadorned narration is honest, quirky, and surprisingly compelling."
"Review" by , "At fewer than 200 pages, And Now You Can Go has more of the tease of the novella than the satisfying whump of the novel. Vida's next project could well be more ambitious — she has earned it."
"Review" by , "The novel is an impressive accomplishment. Ellis' voice completely convinces and enthralls, making And Now You Can Go succeed in a way few narrative-driven novels can."
"Review" by , "Subtle and psychologically acute, And Now You Can Go is a story that captures the way life resists being turned into neat narrative."
"Review" by , "Vida... creates a complex but sympathetic heroine on a voyage and entices you to follow."
"Review" by , "Richly drawn, unpredictable, and wryly funny, Vida's debut is dazzling. Manhattan — both people and place — are rendered with rare authenticity. Highly recommended..."
"Review" by , "Vida demonstrates tremendous patience, sensitivity and droll humor as she charts the path traveled by her memorably odd hero, from paralytic bewilderment to a credible level of self-discovery and resolution."
"Review" by , "In addition to its stirring plot and narrator, Vida's novel offers smart, solid, gimmickless prose that shifts deftly according to scene."
"Review" by , "The book succeeds as a captivating character study with surprising pockets of wit, and Vida's novel is well worth reading....Vida has a brilliant eye for the idiosyncrasies and peculiar details that endear her characters to the reader."
"Review" by , "Lots of colors, all the needlework very fine, but no patch is necessarily connected to any other....The book is even typeset as vignettes: a few paragraphs, then white space, a page or two, white space, so on."
"Review" by , "[A] short, fastidious novel...stingy with ornament, humor, even polysyllables....This affectless style may be perfectly appropriate to her circumstances, but it can make for some fairly trying company."
"Review" by , "Vendela Vida's novel is a gift to the reader, a story that contains what I love best about fiction: an idiosyncratic voice, keenly observed gestures, intelligence and heart, and both large and small moments that reverberate in unpredictable ways."
"Review" by , "And Now You Can Go's narrator is a cool customer, drifting through a world of violence and charity and screwed-up suitors. But she's ever ready to do something generous, something noble, something stamped with grace."
"Review" by , "And Now You Can Go is so fast, so mesmerizing to read, and so accomplished that it's hard to think of it as a first novel, which it is — Vendela Vida has promise to spare."
"Review" by , "An existential Perils-of-Pauline: A young woman is robbed — at gun point! — of her ability to feel. Whether or not she can learn anew how to love is the question at the heart of this wonderful new novel. Comedic yet serious, minimalist yet lush — this is an exciting debut."
"Review" by , "Vendela Vida's first novel defies expectations in virtually every way; what looks be a tale of psychological trauma, or even revenge, evolves into something much rarer in contemporary fiction: a joyful investigation of the pleasures of living. And Now You Can Go is beguiling, celebratory, and faintly mysterious."
"Synopsis" by , This sharply humorous and fast-paced debut novel is about the effects — some predictable, some wildly unexpected — that an encounter at gunpoint have on a (previously) assured young woman.
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