Girl by the Road at Night by David Rabe
A Novel of Vietnam

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Synopsis


David Rabe’s award-winning Vietnam plays have come to embody our collective fears, doubts, and tenuous grasp of a war that continues to haunt. Partially written upon his return from the war, Girl by the Road at Night is Rabe’s first work of fiction set in Vietnam—a spare and poetic narrative about a young soldier embarking on a tour of duty and the Vietnamese prostitute he meets in country.

Private Joseph Whitaker, with Vietnam deployment papers in hand, spends his last free weekend in Washington, DC, drinking, attending a peace rally, and visiting an old girlfriend, now married. He observes his surroundings closely, attempting to find reason in an atmosphere of hysteria and protest, heightened by his own anger. When he arrives in Vietnam, he happens upon Lan, a local girl who submits nightly to the American GIs with a heartbreaking combination of decency and guile. Her family dispersed and her father dead, she longs for a time when life meant riding in water buffalo carts through rice fields with her brother. Whitaker’s chance encounter with Lan sparks an unexpected, almost unrecognized, visceral longing between two people searching for companionship and tenderness amid the chaos around them.

In transformative prose, Rabe has created an atmosphere charged with exquisite poignancy and recreated the surreal netherworld of Vietnam in wartime with unforgettable urgency and grace. Girl by the Road at Night is a brilliant meditation on disillusionment, sexuality, and masculinity, and one of Rabe’s finest works to date.
 

About David Rabe

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DAVD RABE has been hailed as one of America’s greatest living playwrights. He is the author of many widely performed plays, including The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Sticks and Bones, In the Boom Boom Room, Streamers, Hurlyburly, and The Dog Problem. Four of his plays have been nominated for the Tony Award, including one win for Best Play. He is the recipient of an Obie Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Drama Desk Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, among others. His numerous screenwriting credits include I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can, Casualties of War, Hurlyburly, and The Firm. Rabe is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Dinosaurs on the Roof and Recital of the Dog, and a collection of short stories, A Primitive Heart. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Rabe lives with his family in Northwest Connecticut.
 
Published May 8, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 240 pages
Genres: War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Girl by the Road at Night

Kirkus Reviews

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Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Quach Ngoc Lan lives something of a parallel life, selling her body to help support her family and, for the moment, blissfully ignorant of the impending arrival of Whitaker.

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The New York Times

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Her father is dead, her family has been scattered and she has become a bargain-basement prostitute who retails her body to loutish soldiers while she dreams of childhood days riding on buffalo carts through jade-green rice paddies with her brother.

Jun 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Girl by the Road at Night: A ...

BC Books

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We come to know each character by hearing their thoughts and observing their actions as Rabe puts us in the story with poetic prose that creates vivid mental images using brief interactions and short but meaningful conversations.

May 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Girl by the Road at Night: A ...

BC Books

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"Fingering the shape of the papers outlining his fate beneath the cloth of his jacket, he is bewildered by the power of the document," and then, "How can paper move him?

May 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Girl by the Road at Night: A ...

Los Angeles Times

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It was a grant that determined the form David Rabe's writing on the Vietnam War would take after he was discharged from the Army in 1967.

Aug 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Girl by the Road at Night: A ...

Bookmarks Magazine

Partially written upon his return from the war, Girl by the Road at Night is Rabe’s first work of fiction set in Vietnam—a spare and poetic narrative about a young soldier embarking on a tour of duty and the Vietnamese prostitute he meets in country.Private Joseph Whitaker, with Vietnam de...

Jun 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Girl by the Road at Night: A ...

The Beachside Resident

Whitaker and Lan are pawns in a larger game they can’t win, and like the war, their relationship is defined by violence.

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