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You & Me: A Novel

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  341 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
The cult hit The Interrogative Mood—a Best Book of the Year selection by, 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 South ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2011)
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The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka BruntThe Round House by Louise ErdrichThe Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
2013 Tournament of Books Watch List
60th out of 63 books — 389 voters
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Deep South
38th out of 43 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,109)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 30, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis rated it it was amazing
I can't. Not now. I won't. Tomorrow, maybe, if those damn codgers don't get me first.

No worries. These cats'll still be around tomorrow. And the trolls have done in all those codgers, from what I hear.

That's what's got me worried. All those cats.


Yes, I am. Woke up dead. . .never better. Oh, right, the book. I read it.

Me too. Imagine that, $24 US and all that white space. Must be some kind of performance art.

I think so. And that flourish of the pen when he inscribed all that white space, tha
Mike Puma
Dec 11, 2013 Mike Puma rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Review, of sorts, follows in Message 1 below.
Oct 24, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
So, do you read all parts of a book?

Do you mean like a packaged chicken? White meat and dark? Breasts, thighs, wings and legs?

Well, I hadn’t thought of it like that but yes, that is precisely what I mean.

I think you could say that I do then. I do read all parts of a book.

The Preface and the Afterword?

Indeed I do, and sometimes I read the Preface last and the Afterword first, just to show I am not easily led.

How about the Dedication?

I always read the Dedication. Sometimes more than once. I think
Jul 17, 2012 Kevin rated it really liked it
Picture two dudes sitting on a front porch (I'm pretty sure one of them is Padgett), shooting the shit for 200 pages, about everything from made-up heroes (with names like Studio Becalmed), mens underwear, the Salvation Army, the afterlife, going insane, dogs, drinking, and living each day of your life as if it was the last. In other words, it's both deep and shallow. When the conversation is deep, there's a funny we-don't-know-what-we're-talking-about wink to it. When it's shallow, it's more li ...more
Travis Fortney
Jul 22, 2012 Travis Fortney rated it liked it
I had heard of Padgett Powell before reading this, because he was a mentor of Kevin Canty (one of my own mentors, and one of my favorite writers) at the University of Florida. He Even blurbed Canty's A STRANGER IN THIS WORLD (a debut book of short stories whose whose greatness is kind of undeniable). I remember Powell's blurb well enough to paraphrase it without finding the book on my shelf--it's something like: "There's a new literary genius every week, and this week it might as well be Kevin C ...more
Oct 20, 2012 Genevieve rated it liked it
In my mind, there's nothing wrong with being vulgar. But there IS something wrong with being pretentiously vulgar. I feel as though juxtaposing meta themes with base human behavior has been done before, and in ways that are far less smug and self-congratulatory than this.

There is real depth and humor here, of course, so it was still a worthwhile read. I want to commit much of the men's exchange to memory. How strange is it, though, to see individuals characterized as "old"--two people wrestling
Nancy Goldberg Wilks
Jul 08, 2012 Nancy Goldberg Wilks rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a humorous book to read this summer, pick up YOU & ME, a novel by Padgett Powell. A modern day WAITING FOR GODOT, YOU & ME chronicles the conversations between two men, sitting on a porch somewhere between Bakersfield, California and Jacksonville, Florida. The men use a methodology akin to a modern day Socrates. The topics selected for discussion run from the profound -- e.g., how to live everyday as if it's your last -- to the mundane -- e.g., walking to the nearby ...more
First off, let me just say that this isn’t the typical style of book that I read, I’ve decided to try and expand my book shelf with new writers and new genres. This book comes across as more or less disorganized chaos, no chapters, no plot, the entire book is a discussion between two men in the south just hanging out passing time. Or perhaps the conversation is taking place between three or more people, or for a suspenseful thriller aspect, maybe there is only one person.

Having spent a great dea
Dec 25, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
It's Waiting for Godot…but without Godot. Or should I say, even less Godot than the original play? As there isn't even a promise of Godot but, at best, a trip to the liquor store in an orange jumpsuit. This lack of drive for the two porch-dwellers in Powell's new novel can, and does for a little bit, make the forward motion of this book a little vacant, but Powell gifts us in the best moments with the kind of Barthelme-like mastery he's certainly earned. Be ready for a total lack of narrative, a ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Zombieaps rated it liked it
There are some really great moments in this book: refrains and bits of language that coalesce and break apart creating a character landscape on this blank canvas of a novel. The form is fatiguing though and I often felt compelled to put the book down. Maybe I'll make some intellectual leaps several years from now and return to the book then fully grasping its comedy.
Aug 27, 2012 Megan rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Applying this maxim to literary criticism seems apropros in the case of this book. Sometimes crap is just crap. Sam Beckett called, he wants his 1st draft of Waiting for Godot back--so he can shred it. I think this book was an exercise in seeing how long the author could sit and tap out semi-coherent sentences, while legally drunk, before falling over. About ten minutes from what I can tell. Funny? No. In the sad days of the tarnished and falling ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Padgett Powell follows up The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? w/ another high concept literary frolic which operates from a literary degree zero. Two "weirdly agreeable dudes" sit on a porch and talk. Where the unrelated questions in The Interrogative Mood allowed Padgett to suddenly go in any direction whatever unbeholden to anything that had come before, the dialogues in You & Me likewise can go of in any direction whatever at any moment. This is writing that is wildly free while at once bein ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Fred rated it it was amazing
To say this novel is an unconventional one does not quite capture it's essence. In fact, the same may be said about the notion that this work is a novel at all. This book is comprised of seemingly random though often esoteric dialog between two characters. These men remain unnamed, yet as the work progresses we begin to know them through this dialog. There is no real plot, there is no real action. And yet, Powell captivates the reader. If you are one who dog-ears pages for their particular insig ...more
Micah McCarty
Sep 10, 2012 Micah McCarty rated it it was amazing
This might be my favorite read of 2012 so far. I finished his earlier book, The Interrogative Mood, wishing I (or the author) could dialogue more about some of the questions. This book is full of similar questions but the setting is two old men on a porch talking through their thoughts on practically everything. They have brief dialogues on all manners of subjects and it becomes one of the most delightful books I've read in a long time. One part poetry, one part Abott and Costello's Who's on Fir ...more
Mar 22, 2015 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
Probably not the best book to start with, if new to Powell (my mistake).

The conceit of this book is, simply, two men of Powell's generation, both with former wives, one of them a writer, sitting on a porch, somewhere near Florida with an attitude somewhere near California, perform a pastiche of Waiting For Godot, without the seriousness of intent of Beckett's play.

It concerns the growing old and dying, the railing against age and railing against youth and wishing to be other than yourself and f
Oct 07, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
Not everyone’s loved this book. Thomas Mallon in The New York Times Book Review wrote, “[S]scattershot aperçus do not make a novel. Any number of this book’s offhand insights and hypotheses could be developed into full-blown stories that move instead of meander, that do more than click their way from one YouTube morsel to the next,” and Dwight Garner in The New York Times said that the sound the book “mostly makes is that of a writer not hitting a dead end, exactly, but of a writer not appearing ...more
Full Stop
Jun 12, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: summer-2012

Review by Eamon O'Connor

There are two types of people in this world, as far as I can tell: shit-givers, and shit-shooters.[1] Shit-givers are those who care deeply about politics, justice, morality, the environment, cars, flossing; they are sports fans and religious zealots, soldiers and single-mothers, artists, movie stars, jihadists, members of the Senate and the Illuminati, people who wear bicycle helmets or own a clipboard, farmers, careerists, air tra
H Dos Santos
Aug 13, 2014 H Dos Santos rated it really liked it
We are living when before we would not have lived, and now we are dying where we would not have died.
That is almost epitaphic. When he should have not, he lived. When he should have not, he died.
It will perplex the cemetery goer.
The cemetery goer, in my experience, is already perplexed. I see no harm in keeping him that way. I need some coffee, my friend.
I am in want of recreational drugs, untattered clothes, psychological counsel, carnal affection, a dog, and a child upon which to lavish t
Printable Tire
Even more pointless than Waiting For Godot, slackster lit for the art of gabbing.. less like a play than an eternal comic strip, with the same setting and the same characters, ruminating in syndication for infinity.

"Ice cream is like maggots in a field wound."
Josh Mlot
Mar 27, 2013 Josh Mlot rated it liked it
It took me a little while to write my thoughts on this book because I really wasn't sure how I felt about it. At times it was great and at other times it felt overwrought and a bit pompous.

"You & Me" had its moments of great humor that had me laughing out loud, but if you're looking for a riveting story, don't bother. This isn't a story in the traditional sense, rather it's the passing of time between two men sitting around and musing on life and its meaning. There's no plot driving the page
Jul 22, 2012 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: powell
in the mid to late 80s i knew padgett powell, sat in, took up space in, his class...twice. this, shortly after the publication of his 1st novel, edisto, that he signed for me, 1985, there at the goehring's bookstore on 13th street in gainesville.

you might not be able to see it on the cover/dust-jacket, but those two figures at the bottom of the ampersand, two figures in silhouette, their back to the reader, the one on the right with a cane, the other turned slightly toward the elder, slightly hu
Jul 01, 2012 wally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: powell
i read this story before i got it in the mail today...high five...

this version..."first published as you + i by serpent's tail, an imprint of profile books ltd, london." etc

portions also appears in harper's, little star...(i suspect it is one of those magazines)...mcsweeney's, subtropics (another?)...and on

dedicated for amanda dahl...who loved forty-four (a daughter, i believe...has anyone dedicated a book to their dog?)

has a couple quotes on white pages before it all begin
Mar 25, 2012 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the inner cover of the dust jacket describes this book as 'a conversation, apparently on a porch, by two men who may be difficult to grasp'. Which is odd because having now finished the book, I don't recall a porch being mentioned in the text. Perhaps that's why the blurb-writer wrote 'apparently'. But why mention a porch at all?

Two guesses: because it locates Powell's writing within a Southern tradition of which the author himself is not unaware ('You sound like William Faulkner.'
Sep 11, 2013 Malory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Life will not be explained; sweep away the evidence.
And as it were, Powells You And Me lumbers an amphetaminic tarantella through profuse, express-way aphorism and that indelicate gafflegab which instructs the pages of Lewis Carrolls beloved relic of a sweetheart. Powell exercises, with unmolested profundity, a romanticism of the absurd quotidian go-arounds, bedecking his booze-soaped interlocutors with wit, pith, and a most sparkling cynicism from Judy Garland to Julia Child, to crooked-nosed
Aug 05, 2012 Mythili rated it did not like it
“You are incoherent, almost,” one of the unnamed speakers in Padgett Powell’s You & Me blurts out at one point. It’s just one of many apt observations in this book of meandering dialogue. Echoing the stripped-down, conversation-driven absurdist approach of Waiting for Godot, Powell’s latest work features two dueling voices trading stories, reminiscences, and half-plotted theories about just about everything. Haircuts, malaria, Jayne Mansfield, literary theory, flying dogs, Juicy Fruit, Gila ...more
John Pappas
Aug 19, 2012 John Pappas rated it liked it
Purported to be a modern day "Waiting for Godot" this novel? prose-play?, entirely dialogue driven, features short vignettes of two voices-- two older men who contemplate leaving their porch to walk down the street to the liquor store, but who never do -- discussing a host of topics, trivial and profound. Mostly, they amuse and console each other through conversation, mythologizing and wishful thinking. Unlike "Godot", there is no strong sense of the omnipresence of death, the abyss or the void ...more
Aug 09, 2014 Imogen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Often compared to Beckett's Waiting For Godot, You & I is an exceptionally odd book. Is it a novel? Is it a play? It's certainly not Superman! There is no punctuation other than the odd full stop here and there and the only distinction between characters is the presence of a new line.
This book took a lot of concentration to read but it was worth it!
If you love quirky novels outside of the norm, then this is worth checking out!
Christopher Fox
Apr 25, 2015 Christopher Fox rated it it was ok
Not engaging. Unlike Powell's previous novel, "The Interrogative Mood" with its funny, outrageous, thought-provoking, eclectic questions, I found this work, at least the 16% I read to be mannered, deliberately arcane, and, to be blunt, just not interesting on any level. In short snatches, it reminded me somewhat of the iconic play, "Waiting for Godot" without any of Beckett's wit, wisdom and poignancy.
Apr 03, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
I really enjoyed The Interrogative Mood, but didn't get this one. Was it meant to be an updated Waiting for Godot? Most of my enjoyment came from trying to mentally describe the two speakers. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly? Patrick Stewart and Ian MacKellen? James Franco and Seth Rogen? Anyway, I hope the next reader gets a little more out of it than I did.
Corinne Dolci
Feb 10, 2015 Corinne Dolci rated it did not like it
I put this one down after a few pages. It is post modern in the vein of Gertrude Stein--unidentified interlocutors saying witty things in an unidentified contemporary setting. Some of the commentary was interesting, but I wasn't convinced that I should care. Wouldn't mind picking this book back up in a lit class or with a discussion group, but not my idea of a leisure read.
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Padgett Powell is the author of four novels, including Edisto, which was nominated for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications, as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories and Best American Sports Writing. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he teaches writing at MFA@FLA, the writing program ...more
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“jejune longing is the chewing gum of life.” 1 likes
“ease up. the day was rued when we came upon it, or when it came upon us, and beheld us marring the horizon, sitting here like unconquerable savages, men missing their dogs and talking pointlessly unless talk to the dead. let's sharpen something.” 1 likes
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