Q: A Novel (Mandery)

Q: A Novel
Evan Mandery, 2011
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062015839

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

Shortly before his wedding, the unnamed hero of this uncommon romance is visited by a man who claims to be his future self and ominously admonishes him that he must not marry the love of his life, Q. At first the protagonist doubts this stranger, but in time he becomes convinced of the authenticity of the warning and leaves his fiancee.

The resulting void in his life is impossible to fill. One after the other, future selves arrive urging him to marry someone else, divorce, attend law school, leave law school, travel, join a running club, stop running, study the guitar, the cello, Proust, Buddhism, and opera, and eliminate gluten from his diet. The only constants in this madcap quest for personal improvement are his love for his New York City home and for the irresistible Q.

A unique literary talent, Evan Mandery turns the classic story of transcendent love on its head, with an ending that will melt even the darkest heart. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Brooklyn, New York, USA
Education—B.A., J.D., Harvard University
Currently—lives in Manhasset, New York

Evan Mandery is an American author and criminal justice academic at the City University of New York.

Mandery began his writing career in non-fiction. His first book The Campaign: Rudy Giuliani, Ruth Messinger, Al Sharpton and the Race to be Mayor of New York was published in 1999. His academic writing focuses on capital punishment, and his book Capital Punishment in America: A Balanced Examination, was first issued in 2004 and again in 2011. His most recent book on the subject, A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, came out in 2013.

Mandery turned to fiction in 2007.

  • His first novel Dreaming of Gwen Stefani was published in 2007. The novel deals with a mathematical genius and hot-dog vendor, who falls in love with Gwen Stefani.
  • His second novel, First Contact, Or, It's Later Than You Think, published in 2010, revolves around a hyper-intelligent alien species and a dim-witted President, mistrustful of the aliens.
  • Q: A Novel, published in 2011, is based on time travel. An unnamed protagonist is visited by his future self and advised not to marry the love of his life.

Evan is a professor at the City University of New York, and an avid poker player and golfer. He lives in Manhasset, New York, with his wife Valli Rajah-Mandery, a sociologist, and their three children.(Adapted from the publisher and Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/6/2013.)

Book Reviews
[A] delightful New York-infused novel …. A word to the tear prone: Don’t attempt to read the ending in public.
New York Times Book Review

[A] deeply funny, seriously smart novel, at times both romantic and pragmatic. Fans of Mark Kurlansky and Matthew Norman will appreciate Mandery’s eloquently witty authorial voice....Q is a remarkably refreshing work, full of energy and eminently absorbing.

Discussion Questions
1. Q raises some important moral questions. Was it ethical for the older version of the main character, I-55, to encourage the main character to change the path of his life? What about the other older versions?

2. Relatedly, and perhaps most importantly, was it ethical for the main character to decide to abandon Q? Did Q have a right to know the basis for his decision?

3. Are the main character and the future versions of himself the same people? If not, what implications does this have for how we think of ourselves? Is a ten-year old version of myself the same person as me? A thirty-year older version? Fifty?

4. In Q, the price of time travel is extremely high. Does it matter whether a new technology is egalitarian, meaning that it is accessible to all people? Would time travel, on the terms discussed in I, be an improvement to society?

5. The debate between Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud in Chapter 18 is central to the theme of the book. All of the future versions of the main character believe they are making the main character’s life better. Is this belief in progress real or is faux-Freud correct in saying that it is something humans have created to make their lives palatable?

6. Is Q’s father a believable character? Is it possible that he is a different person with Q than in his business dealings?

7. The author writes the entire book in present tense. What do you think of this as a literary technique? What, if anything, is the author’s message in making this choice?

8. Q is a comedy with a supremely tragic premise. Are these choices compatible or incompatible?

9. If you could visit yourself at an earlier point, where would you go and what, if anything, would you say?

10. If you could visit another place and time, where and when would you go?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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