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The Red Car

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,972 ratings  ·  325 reviews
In her “dry, delightful fairy tale for grown-ups” (People), celebrated novelist Marcy Dermansky offers a biting exploration of a woman’s search for self-realization and models of a life well lived. When Leah’s former boss and mentor, Judy, dies in an accident and leaves Leah her most prized possession—a flashy red sports car—the shock forces Leah to reevaluate her whole li ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Liveright
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Marcy Dermansky There are so many ways to answer this question. What did it cost the author emotionally to write it? How much can you get it for on Amazon? Do you…moreThere are so many ways to answer this question. What did it cost the author emotionally to write it? How much can you get it for on Amazon? Do you want to support an independent bookstore? Maybe you can a copy on eBay. There are pdfs you can download and that is free but not good for the author or the publisher. I think there are many ways I could answer this question. The price on the back cover says $24.95. (less)
Marcy Dermansky I am often asked about the lack of contractions in my character's dialogue. Yes, this is intentional. I realize that it is stylized. I care very much…moreI am often asked about the lack of contractions in my character's dialogue. Yes, this is intentional. I realize that it is stylized. I care very much about my sentences and how they sound. I often repeat phrases as well. Repetition feels different to me than redundancy.

I want my fiction to be like real life but also enhanced. In real life, our language often is not precise or interesting. We say Like and Huh and Um and somehow, I don't feel like there is a place for it in dialogue.

I am interested, however, that some readers do find the lack of contractions jarring. I certainly do not want to put people off of my work and will think about it in the future. I think that when someone says I am sorry as opposed to I'm sorry, it feels slower and more thoughtful and, therefor, more deeply felt.

Thanks for asking the question. (less)

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Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been waiting and waiting for a new book from Marcy Dermansky and finally that new book is here. The Red Car is taut and smart and strange and sweet and perfect. I want to eat this book or sew it to my skin or something.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars. The Red Car was on the weird side, but mostly weird in a good way. Leah is a writer in her early thirties. Her former boss Judy dies, and leaves her a red sports car. The rest of the book focuses on Leah's odd trip from New York to the west coast to attend Judy's funeral and claim the car. There's a very light touch of surrealism to the story. But the predominant feel is a deadpan narrative style focused on Leah's state of mind and seemingly random choices and encounters. This will no ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2016
I really enjoyed this book, just sat and read all 200 pages without a break. I was a bit deterred by the comparison to Miranda July and Maria Semple, both authors I feel I am supposed to like, but when faced with their characters I feel too far on the outside. In this case, the central character of Leah makes perhaps socially inept choices but I understood them. The author shows us her thought process and somehow her ways make sense, despite her life being rather small and unsatisfying. The deat ...more
Lark Benobi
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, exuberant-books
Everything about this book is magical to me. There is such a buoyant quality to this prose, and such a candor in the narrative voice. The story is flatly told but full of surprise. It explains very little and apologizes for nothing. The protagonist is without agency, yielding, being acted on continuously by others rather than making her own conscious decisions. I ended up feeling completely enveloped in this character--as I read, I was her. She is someone who is obsessively observant of other pe ...more
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My god, what a ride this was! Gorgeously written and perfectly paced. A book has to be tightly controlled to succeed at this brief length, but it doesn't feel controlled or contrived. It unspools so naturally and inevitably, without ever being predictable. I loved it.
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think the most impressive thing about The Red Car (and basically EVERYTHING about it is impressive) is how gentle Dermansky's hand on it is. I realize that's a ridiculous thing to say about an author, but in other stories like this once -- a white woman in her 30s dealing with a life she's realized she doesn't love and the choices that got her there -- it often feels as if the writer is dragging the reader through scenes, assembling lessons, and aligning symbols. But The Red Car, somehow, is e ...more
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
The Red Car is a classic American road story—what more American story is there than “things weren’t working out so well in the east and so I went west?”—but it’s also a brilliant subversion of the road story. It’s a novel of a narrator “finding herself” on the road, complete with sly winks at the macho pursuit of finding oneself in On The Road and Big Sur and at the kind of men who both appear in those books and see themselves in them. The protagonist here makes risky decisions personally, sexua ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
The fact that I was able to start and finish and enjoy The Red Car is something. Dermansky is not really my kind of writer. I have never been much for the kind of meandering narrative of a directionless protagonist. And yet I read this one in a relatively short time. But, of course, eventually I started waiting for it to come together or mean something and the thing about this book is that it never does. And I am not the right reader for it, as much as I may wish I could be. But I did enjoy it m ...more
Dec 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: millie
I love Dermansky's surreal prose. This is a simple story, one that could have been told from a hundred different angles. I loved the way she chose to tell it. I loved how her use of language created the tone of drifting and uncertainty and re-creating yourself in the midst of emotional chaos.
Alison Hardtmann
Leah is living in a lackluster Queens apartment with her self-involved husband when she receives word that her friend and former boss has died. Going back to San Francisco, she encounters friends and co-workers from her past as well as meeting a few new people. She also inherits the car her boss died in, a speedy vehicle that frightens Leah, along with her boss's voice in her head.

What is lost in the summary is how very What an odd and perfect book this is. Marcy Dermansky manages to pack so mu
I suspect this is another of those books that to me falls into the category of the Emperor's new clothes. No one is brave enough to tell the Emperor that he is truly naked, except for an innocent child who finally announces that the Emperor has got no clothes on. I feel this way about a lot of books, that the hype has created the idea that this book (and many others) are amazing and great and wonderful, and so most people fall in line with that idea because they don't want to come across as less ...more
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
The Red Car was totally not what I expected. Honestly, the publisher blurb makes it sound like a borderline Eat Pray Love journey of self discovery featuring a constant soundtrack of Natasha Bedingfield. Luckily for us, that is SO not what this book is. It is much weirder than that. If you like the straight forward, quirky, honest sense of humor of Miranda July and/or the sparse, powerful writing of Lydia Davis, this is the book for you. And that's exactly why it was the book for me.

I don't
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book grabbed me from the first page, and never let go. The events, though almost mundane on their face, take on a mythical quality in Dermansky's hands; she has the ability to make plain, clear utterances more than the sum of their parts, and run a shiver of electricity underneath her story, only occasionally letting it spark up into view. If that doesn't sound good, it is. It is very, very good.
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, one-day-reads
THE RED CAR is a quick read but definitely not a simple one. Leah gets news about an old friend, news that takes her on an emotional and geographical journey. This novel is dark and twisty but also funny and unexpected.
K.D. Winchester
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-watch-list
I love a well-written novel between 150-200 pages, and this book didn't disappoint. Dermansky writes a tight, emotionally charged story that ends with you feeling satisfied and thinking, "Yes, that ended perfectly." I'm not going to tell you much about it since the book is so short, but let's just say it's about a woman finding her feet in life and figuring out who she wants to be.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
What a quirky lovely book. The dialogue is excellent. There is a weird whimsy to it as well (along with some other weirdness). But I really liked it. It was different voice than I normally read and that was pleasing. Quick read and delightful. Actually, inspired me to write.
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'll read this one again.

I love Dermansky's voice and will read anything/everything she writes.
Meghan Burke
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to need a new Marcy Dermansky book each and every weekend.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is like those novels that were extremely popular a decade ago...Middle aged woman leaves behind her life, and low and behold starts having these spectacular adventures where everyone wants to have sex with them and somehow money doesn't matter. Except in this novel the woman isn't middle aged, but in her early 30's. Her friend dies leaving her a sports car and money. So she can continue on her life path of doing nothing, but writing for a decade (even though she has only published one short ...more
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book about a woman who is snapped out of her ennui by a phone call that the woman who always believed in her is dead. It takes her on a journey and you can't see the ending coming. It was perfectly paced, smart and funny. At 200 pages, it is a snap to read. So why don't you pick this one up?
I am a new convert to Marcy Dermansky (thanks Meg!), and while I still love her writing, I am less enthused about the story of the red car. Leah, the protagonist, is directionless, which is interesting for the first half of the book and singularly less interesting in the second, perhaps because prolonged exposure to Leah slowly reveals that there's not much underneath the surface. What's relatable in Leah's early twenties is not in her thirties, which is compounded by the problem of the red car. ...more
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
What a lovely surprise! The Red Car is a sparkling, smart and funny novel. I enjoyed every page - I just wish it was longer.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A voice that burrows and expands. I'm sure there are lots of reviews here that start and end with "I didn't like the narrator" or "nothing happens" so if you say that to yourself just do us all a favor and skip this one.

Deserved to be on more "best-of 2016" lists. One of my favorite reads in a while. I was transfixed. Just the right length, too.
Jason McKinney
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Roxane Gay said it best..."smart, strange, sweet perfect." I couldn't have said it better myself. I didn't want it to end.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I read it in one day! I feel like the author should write part 2 and let us know what Leah does with the rest of her life. I want to go to Big Sur!!!
Erin Glover
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-stars
Reading this book was like taking a ride in a red sports car. Each scene is action packed. Leah seems wild and eccentric in her youth, including agreeing to have sex with the boy who loves her and lives across the hall in the dorm of their prestigious school if he will pay her $200. She read that college girls in Japan did it. Somehow, she settles for less as life goes on until her boss dies and leaves her the little red sports car. Then her journey to find herself takes her across the country w ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I heard the author wanted this book to be Murakami for women, and I guess that it's similar because I found it interesting without being able to say why it was interesting. The lack of contractions was distracting though. I don't know anyone who talks like the characters.
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love Marcy's books and this one is no exception. Her characters are sad and slightly off-kilter and they find themselves in all sorts of interesting situations. The Red Car is no exception. Fans of Dermansky's will be thrilled to finally get their hands on her third novel.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
DNF This was painful. A shame, because the audiobook narrator was very good, had a very pleasant voice, it's a shame she had to narrate such drivel. I ended it when I heard her narrate this gem of a sentence, "Oh, I decided I really liked plants." The main character was a complete flake, sex-crazed and shallow. You couldn't scratch too hard beneath a very light surface layer, because there wasn't much depth to the character or the story. This was a pick for our in-person book club. Here's to ...more
Kate Friedeberg
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the words of Roxanne Gay, "I want to eat this book or sew it into my skin or something."
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Marcy Dermansky is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Red Car, Bad Marie and Twins. Very Nice will be released on July 2, 2019.

The Red Car was named a Best Book of the Year by Buzzfeed, San Francisco Chronicle, Flavorwire, and Huffington Post. Bad Marie was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer's Pick, a finalist in the Morning News Tournament of Books, and named one of th
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“And that is one of the problems of your generation. All sex. No romance. No love.” 1 likes
“While I was not entirely satisfied with the circumstances of my existence, I felt like the possibility of improvement still existed. That I could make happiness happen.” 1 likes
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