Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Q by Evan Mandery

Title: Q: A Novel
Author: Evan Mandery

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / New York City / Relationships / Writers / Time Travel)
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Paperbacks (8/23/2011)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Okay to liked at moments.
Did I finish?: I did, although it was tough at some parts.
One-sentence summary: A man bails on marrying the love of his life after his future self warns him not to, unleashing more unhappy future selves.

Do I like the cover?: Yes, although it gave me the impression this was more of a hipster-y novel than it is.

I'm reminded of...: Scarlett Thomas, Gary Shteyngart

First line: Q, Quentina Elizabeth Deveril, is the love of my life.

Did... I develop a bit of a crush on Q: YES. The courtship of Q and the narrator is too cute for words. Luff.

Did... I sigh, happily, at the end: YES. The last chapter was just perfect.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow, I think, as it has a lovely romance at the heart of the story that's unusual and appealing.

Why did I get this book?: The opening line grabbed me and the story of love lost always gets me.

Review:  With the novel's opening chapter, I found two things: enchanting sweetness and overly quirky forays that ran a bit too long.  I immediately loved Q as much as our unnamed narrator did; their very cute courtship charmed me.  But just as I started to get seriously excited for the story, Mandery tempered my enthusiasm with four pages describing the stroke-for-stroke mini golf game the narrator and Q play on their second date. Amusingly, the course is owned by Neo-Marxists and so the obstacles are all Communist themed, but the literal recounting of the course bored me and was one of many passages where Mandery went on a bit too long about a pet idea he clearly loved.

That's how the rest of my reading of this novel went.

I'm really of two minds about this book.  I enjoyed it enough but I often found myself skimming.  Our narrator writes speculative fiction (what if Robespierre took up transcendental meditation, etc.) and this novel is just an extension of that what-if theme.  I wanted this novel to be a serious look at the impact of leaving the love of one's life (and what future event would be so awful to make one travel back in time to prevent marriage) but that's not this book -- and ultimately, Mandery isn't responsible for my (erroneous) expectations.

I had mentally resigned myself to being underwhelmed -- then I got to the last chapter.  It was a surprise, a moving, tender, sweet, and satisfying conclusion that almost saved the entire book.  Suddenly, the long rambling asides didn't seem so exhausting in light of the payoff.  I reread the last chapter twice, actually, to savor the language and sentiment, and bask a little longer.

New Yorkers will absolutely want to get this novel as the city is a literal backdrop (opening each chapter) and a background player to all the action.  Fans of cerebral silliness will also get a kick out of the narrator's ruminations; lit fic lovers might also like the nerdy narrative and variation on romance.

*** *** ***


I'm pleased to offer a copy of Q to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment on this review with your email address. Open to US/CA readers, closes September 9. For more reviews, be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour.


  1. Ok, I am definitely entering your giveaway (though I feel I am always unlucky because I post first) because I really want to read this one! I know this wasn't a homerun, but I am too intrigued to resist. Plus I've really been in the mood for a good lovestory lately AND I have a huge girl crush on Scarlett Thomas, all of which adds up to me REALLY wanting to read this book! :D

  2. @Steph: I totally think this would be your kind of book -- I think it could be a homerun for you in a way it wasn't for me -- you know I've got complicated feelings for Scarlett Thomas!

  3. I agree with Steph--even though this wasn't a glowing review, I am still very interested in reading it!

    My e-mail address is swdarguschATyahooDOTcom.

  4. Wow, this sounds very different...in a good way! Please include me in your giveaway!

  5. I am reading this one for the tour, and am actually pretty excited about it. I like cerebral silliness, and though it's not what I would have expected out of this book, it has piqued my curiosity. Great review!

  6. Sounds like a different kind of book. Please include me in the giveaway! ljldml@gmail.com

  7. This book sounds like it has a little of everything! Love to read it! Thanks!


  8. This is one of those books I just do not know about, with that said I am totally leaning towards a big yes. But then thing is that I do not know if I would like it or not. But then you never know with any books

  9. @Heather: I can't wait to see what you think of it!

    @Blodeuedd: I think it would be a good book for the right mood/mindset -- these type of books don't quite always strike me right (Scarlett Thomas frustrates me even though I appreciate her skill).

  10. You've piqued my interest enough that I'd like to be entered in your giveaway. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

  11. Please enter me in the draw!

    I'm following you on GFC (Darlene), and my email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I would like to be entered in this giveaway. I follow you via gfc as mamabunny13 Thanks.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  13. I am so curious about this book. Since I saw you post this book on Shelfari, I've wanted to know more. Hate that it wasn't a 100-percenter for you, but I'm still curious.

    Great review!

  14. I would like to read this. Thank you for the giveaway!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  15. I'm dying to know what the last chapter was like for it to practically redeem the whole book for you!

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  16. Q is a book I've seen around and have been intrigued by. I think I'll enter, despite my reservations about the long passages that bored you. The communist theme of the mini golf course has me curious...I wonder how that is described and what's in it.

    savvyverseandwit at gmail

  17. Okay, this sounds weird, but like it could be interesting.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to be entered!

    tardis5445 AT gmail DOT com

  18. The cover of this one definitely drew me in -- maybe because of the pink? (I'm so ridiculous that way.) I'd love a chance to read it. Thanks!

    writing.meg [at] gmail.com

  19. I'd love to read this. Count me in. :)


  20. hmmm, so where does the time travel fit into it all? that is what caught my eye at first glance.

  21. Hmmm, I feel torn! The things you describe that bothered you would probably realllly bother me. But I ADORE nyc and having the city as the backdrop sounds so nice! An I love cerebral silliness.. =) Please enter me: jennala(at)cfl.rr.com

  22. I'm intrigued but not sure if it's enough for me to actually read it. I'm glad that last chapter saved it for you, but I'd be more interested in why his future self told him not to marry her.

  23. this one sounds so unique! thank you for the contest!!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  24. This one sounds good. I really want to read it. Thanks for offering it as a giveaway!


    2 Kids and Tired Books

  25. This sounds great! I've seen it around the blogosphere quite a bit :)

    Thanks for the giveaway! jesse.nicole.paul@gmail.com

  26. Thanks so much for the giveaway! Please count me in.

    nfmgirl AT gmail dOT com

  27. Please include me. Thanks for the chance!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net