Thursday, June 29, 2006

And Now You Can Go : A Novel by Vendela Vida

Category: Fiction - Literary

Publisher: Anchor

Format: Trade Paperback, 208 pages

Pub Date: August 2004

What would you do if a man with a gun accosted you in a public park telling you he would shoot if you kept walking? I am sure I would be paralysed into silence, but not the protagonist of Vendela Vida's debut fiction novel; she recited poetry to the man and then suggested they go read up some more poetry at the closest bookstore! With an opening like this, ofcourse I was curious to read the book, wouldn't you be?

Anyway, without giving anything away, the rest of the book deals with how this event dictates the rest of Ellis', (the protagonist), life - it completely consumes her, upsets her emotional balance and affects, sometimes disastrously, her relationships with friends and family. Since this story is set in New York a lot of readers have referred to the incident in the park as being a 9/11 kind of incident, a random attack,but I am not sure if that is what the author had in mind when she wrote it.

One of the most striking things about this book is its prose. Vendela Vida writes in short sentences and her style is succint and precise, there are no wasted words. There is a lot of wry humour and the narrator makes you smile with her seeming fondness for minute details and observations.

However, about halfway through I grew a little bored because apart from the protagonist's see-sawing emotions and the occasional fling with mostly unsuitable men, nothing else seemed to be happening, but then suddenly and most unexpectedly, the narrator takes a trip to the Philippines to help out at a "Doctors Without Borders" kind of program. This little gem of a travelogue inserted within the pages of the story completely changed the momentum of the book and I started to relish every page again.

Don't read this book if you're expecting a thriller because despite its thrilling premise, it is more a story of contemplation, human relationships and of refusing to play the victim. However, I would recommend reading it for its quirky prose.


paris parfait said...

This sounds really interesting _ thanks for the tip!

Jessica said...

Hello! I just stopped by your blog after you visited mine and I'm really enjoying your reviews. I've added you to my daily reading list and I look forward to sharing some reading recommendations!

Unknown said...

I find the types of books which are most thrilling at the beginning seem to disappoint. I am glad this one did not!

Cassiopeia Rises said...

Oh, my dear lotus, how like you to find such a poetic book. Will he or won't he?
It is a thrilling title and leads one to wonder what will be.
I feel like I have walked with this man before.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

It happened to me once in Klang, M'sia, Lotus. He did not have a gun but a knife. It was early in the morning in a suburb. I was on my way to work. He was an unemployed man, pretending to be a jogger. He took my money.
I remember pleading with him to leave me bus fare so no one would suspect anything. I did suggest that neighbours could be watching and would identify him, I said if he let me take the bus, the police would not have to know anything. It worked.
I talked to him like a friend.
Faced with such a situation, I was very frightened. But this was mixed with a sudden calmness that helped me think with clarity.
Today, I can still remember his face.


David D Jerald said...

Hi Lotus,
I like stories where one single event in your life changes you into something better or something worse. I love that kind of stuff!
Thanks Lotus.

Stefanie said...

The book sounds good. I don't know that reciting poetry would be the first thing that came to mind if accosted in the park by a man with a gun.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

Unknown said...

Is it your birthday? Have a great day!

Lotus Reads said...

Hello, Anonymous!

That was a sneaky thing to do, but nice! :) Thank you! I did some sleuthing and I think I know where you come from - you're definitely a wise man or woman from the East, right? :)

Thanks for stopping by again Angela and for the birthday wishes - you're a sweetie, thank you!

Jude said...

Hi Lotus
The opening of this book and its randomness sounds like the film phonebooth. Have you seen it?

a.c.t. said...

Sounds amazing, great blog. Found you through Susan in Italy, do drop by to visit. P.S. I lived in Dubai too a couple of years ago.

Lotus Reads said...

No Jude I haven't, but I remember seeing the previews and wanting to watch it!

Hi, .a.c.t. thanks for visiting, always nice to meet someone who has lived in Dubai!

Booklogged said...

Sounds like a good book, will be adding it to my list. You always read such interesting stuff and write awesome reviews.