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And Now You Can Go: A Novel Paperback – August 24, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (August 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400032415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400032419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The premise of Vendela Vida's terrific debut novel, And Now You Can Go, seems at first a tad depressing, in a Bernard Goetz, New-York-in-the-1980s kind of way. The narrator, a young woman named Ellis, is walking in Riverside Park when she is held up at gunpoint. The man assures her he doesn't want her money, and he doesn't push her into the bushes to rape her. Ellis notices the designer name on his glasses: Giorgio Armani; she begins to obsess on this detail. Then she starts to recite poetry to him to cheer him up about life. The encounter ends as abruptly as it began, when the man simply runs away down the street. Even though no blood has been shed, Ellis's life is utterly changed.

In fast, clean, funny prose, we find Ellis slipping adrift from her routine as a Columbia grad student and falling into a series of mini-romances. When she goes home to San Francisco for winter break, her mom suggests Ellis join her on a medical mission to the Philippines. The work and the heat and the exhaustion settle her down for the first time since the attack, and she returns to New York a little refreshed. There's one more encounter with the gunman, which Vida plays more comic than tragic. In fact, the strength of this novel is in the way Vida toys with her priorities. The scenes that ought to be fraught and suspenseful have a goofy kind of oh-well voice to them; the scenes that ought to be dull--like Ellis's run-ins with her annoying roommate--exert a weirdly compelling narrative drive. Both the author and her protagonist charm us utterly. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ellis, the 21-year-old narrator of Vida's lean, absorbing first novel, is forced at gunpoint to sit and talk with a man in a New York City park as he contemplates a murder/suicide. Like Scheherazade, she reels off half-remembered poems to try to distract the man and keep herself alive. Though nothing more happens on that park bench, she carries on as if treading water in an emotional whirlpool, waiting to get sucked under. A grad student at Columbia, Ellis goes through the various routines expected of the victim of violent crime: reporting the event to the campus police, seeking succor from friends, going to a therapist. But the problem of how to define herself-as a victim or not-lingers and begins to seep into other parts of her life. She ricochets among a handful of men: Tom, her well-meaning but needy boyfriend; the nameless "representative of the world," an enigmatic grad student; a rich, suicidal ex; and her only potential savior, a colorful, if chauvinistic, ROTC recruit full of chivalric gestures and inappropriate comments. Frustrated, Ellis returns to her home in San Francisco and then accompanies her mother on a charitable trip to the Philippines, where, in a series of surreal vignettes, she assists doctors giving eye surgery to the poor. While a more conventional novel would use this trip as a denouement-a kind of reconciliation with her own privilege-here it merely underscores the narrator's dreamlike detachment. Despite the high drama of the start, this is an unsentimental tale, in which the classic brush with death elicits a sense of awe as well as anger, and conventional notions of therapy and reconciliation are overturned. 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It was fine, but not stunning.
anerak2
He appears baffled not by her reaction, but by the poetry she recites.
Liz W.
The plot was bumpy and the narrative was just plain dull.
Basura Blanca

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By kardra on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you believe some of the reviewers here, creative writing (MFA) courses at American universities either remove any innate literary imagination and originality, or many of the students who successfully complete them don't possess any in the first place. At any rate, I'm not in any way competent to comment on the subject. I have grasped though that there's a lot of antagonism against Dave Eggers and the group of writers associated with his (defunct?) McSweeney's magazine, of which Vendela Vida is a part. Ignoring that, Vida's novel And Now You Can Go was interesting enough to me mostly because of the subtle humour and main character Ellis's inscrutability, which doesn't let up throughout the story. Vida's style has been passed off by some here as merely superficial and vapid, but I actually find that she convincingly describes a thoughtful, ironic woman in her early 20s, right about now. I think the story holds up as mild satire (the jaunt to the Philippines certainly contributes to that impression) but I agree with the oft-repeated criticism as to the choice of longer narrative form: And Now You Can Go would work better as a short story than a novel, or even novella. Some of the harsher critics go so far as to relegate this book to the 'Cosmo' or 'JANE' magazine fiction scrap heap. This I think is unfair: I would say Vida is a more serious, imaginative, talented writer than that.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Christy Thompson on November 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I saw about eight million reviews of this book, so I bought it. Somebody needs to be sued. This is a classic pump-and-dump scheme. Vida must have some serious connections in the publishing world.
In the novel a single incident happens. Someone gets held up at gunpoint. End of story. But no. She writes an entire novel about it. This is the only thing that happens for a couple hundred pages. I'm not kidding. She wrote a whole damn novel based on one event. Boring.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Adam Hardin on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Aside from the language being as superfical and as workshopped as can possibly be, the book reads as a Readers Digest story drawn out into a novel. There is no weight here. There is no urgency here. It feels completely constructed.
There is a reason why American Fiction is on its deathbed with publications such as the New York Times pulling fiction reviews and replacing them with nonfiction reviews, and its because of these abominable MFA books.
I had a horribly difficult time doing this review because in the end, I just didn't know what to say about the book. There is nothing there. You come away with nothing. Maybe this is a new(or the reigning) genre of Anti-literature.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is really hard to read while rolling your eyes. Vida's writing in this novel is uneven, which makes reading about the vapid grad students rather unpleasant. The best thing about this book is that it isn't very long. You can read it in a couple hours if you must.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By anerak2 on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The reviews make this sound much more absorbing. It was fine, but not stunning.
While the story of Vida's character Ellis being held up by a Riverside Park assailant is not an earth-shattering one (there are clearly much worse things that can happen), I have read countless books that take a single, mundane incident and weave a fantastic tale of results, ripples, and unintended consequences. "Atonement" by Ian McEwan is one example. But this novel is not on that level. I wish it had been better.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just barely made it through this book. I would have put it down, but I figured the rave reviews might have some merit. They didn't. The protagonist is shallow and self-conscious, and the novel lacks the subtlety of similar works--the prose was so pomo that I was thinking Vida is a pen name for David Foster Wallace--only it lacks David Foster Wallace's well-developed characters and interesting plots. Wait for it to show up in paperback, or browse through it at Borders.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jane Ashberry on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps Ms. Vida's main character Ellis is blowing the incident with the gunman a bit out of proportion. I understand the scenario was disturbing, but I found Ellis's huffing and hawing about the event for some one hundred odd pages tiresome and annoying. And Now I Will Go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. You on March 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Funny: when I read this book I had no idea Vendela Vida is married to David Eggers, but when I finish reading "And Now You Can Go" I had exactly the same reaction as when I gave up reading "A Hopeless Work of Staggering Hubris": Huh? I just don't get the literary acclaim. The writing is OK, but the story is dull, dull, dull. There's only one good thing I can say about Vida's novel: it's mercifully brief. I managed to read the 208 pages, which is more than I can say about her husband's work.
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