Customer Reviews

1 Review
5 star:    (0)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powell at a lower temperature, 27 Feb 2013
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: You & I (Hardcover)
'You and I' (published in the States as 'You and Me') is the second short work from this author in rapid succession. It does give something of the impression of an attempt to capitalise on the unexpected success of the earlier book, 'The Interrogative Mood', which was awarded the James Tait Black Prize and is a genuinely funny and thought-provoking piece of short fiction in the vein of Donald Barthelme. Both books are described as novels, but the word is used very loosely. Each book is stylistically challenging in a mild way, and neither gives the reader the straightforward satisfactions of the realist fiction that we think of as central to the novel as a form.

Of the two, 'You and I' is the less innovative. Where 'The Interrogative Mood' was composed entirely of questions that over the course of the book accumulate force and suggest underlying themes, 'You and I' is a novel in dialogue. The scene is indeterminate - an imaginary blend of California and Florida - and the principals are two ageing men, living together in a relationship of friendship, who find their pleasure in sitting on the porch and indulging in alcohol-fuelled conversation. Their dialogues range freely from the expected musings on change and mortality to flights of imagination spurred by contemplation of passing strangers, odd words and the failure of the world to live up to their needs and expectations; no flying dogs, for example.

In this sense, 'You and I' is a rather old-fashioned book, in spite of its formal games. It takes its place in a long line of American comedic writing that turns on fun with language, the tradition of the tall tale and a sort of popular surrealism of which, again, Donald Barthelme - whose work supplies one of the two epigraphs - was perhaps the most brilliant exponent. In fact, one objection to the book - which is always perfectly readable and often genuinely funny - is simply that it can come across as warmed-over Barthelme: or, if one prefers, a reheated product of the mind that at a higher temperature produced 'The Interrogative Mood' and Powell's earlier novels.

Palatable food can be made from the remains of a meal by a skilled cook, but not food that one would confuse with filet mignon. 'You and I' sometimes seemed to be the book of a tired man; a little too repetitious, a little too lacking in vitality. Given its theme, which for all the comedy centres on disappointment and fading powers, this is perhaps not inappropriate.

'You and I' is likely to appeal to anyone who enjoyed 'The Interrogative Mood'. Powell can be amusing and uninhibited about the indignities of age, and his taste for the turns of vernacular speech is a steady source of pleasure. For other readers, particularly those familiar with Barthelme at his best, it may not be the ideal place to start with Powell.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

You & I
You & I by Padgett Powell (Paperback - 9 May 2013)
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews