Excerpt from Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Vaclav & Lena

A Novel

by Haley Tanner

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2012, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Maybe what?" says Rasia.

"Maybe, before we are eating dinner..." says Vaclav. "Say what you are saying," says Rasia, narrowing her eyes. "Can Lena and I do for you a magic show, in the living room, before dinner?" Vaclav says, very fast, all in one breath. "

All homework is done?" she asks.

"Yes, all is done," Vaclav says, even though his homework is only mostly done.

"Lena, you are staying for dinner?" Rasia asks. "Da," says Lena.

"English!" says Rasia.

"Ye-us," says Lena, with a growl.

"Before any magic is happening, homework must be done," Rasia says.

Vaclav smiles, because he knows that this is her way of saying yes.

Rasia scowls at the room for one extra minute, just to eradicate any funny business that may or may not be happening, then, satisfied, she finally leaves the room, pulling the door almost shut behind her. As soon as she is gone, Vaclav and Lena jump up and down and squeal with excitement, and then start scrambling frantically to prepare their magnificent act.

. . .

Vaclav and Lena turn off the big-screen television in the living room. They push the big mahogany coffee table back against the wall; it is a perfect stage, black and solid and shiny. They have moved the coffee table this way many times; it is easy to push across the big threadbare Persian rug.

Vaclav and Lena stand onstage, waiting for the audience to take their seats.

"Dad," Vaclav shouts, "come on, we're ready!" Rasia is already sitting on the big black leather sofa, waiting for the show to start. Vaclav's father comes in with a glass of vodka in his hand and sinks down into the sofa.

"Okay, so I am here. What are we watching? What are you going to show?" Vaclav's father says.

"Only watch, okay?" Vaclav wears his school clothes, jeans and a green T-shirt, with his bow tie hanging around his neck and his magician's top hat on his head. Lena wears only her normal clothes, jeans and a T-shirt, because she has not made her costume yet.

"First, welcome to my lovely and intellectual audience. Lady and gentleman, you are in for quite a surprise. I am Vaclav the Magnificent, and this, my assistant, the Lovely Lena." Vaclav swings his left arm out to indicate Lena, who takes a long, deep, serious bow.

Vaclav and the audience wait in silence for her to return to an upright position.

"Tonight we have for you a special treat which will astound and amaze you. May I please, from the audience, give someone the honor of volunteering a quarter to give to me to be involved in a magical trick?"

"This is scam," says Vaclav's father.

"Dad!" says Vaclav.

"Oleg, give it," growls Rasia, and with much moaning and groaning, he reaches under his butt and into his pocket and retrieves a warm quarter, then hands it to his son.

Excerpted from Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner. Copyright © 2011 by Haley Tanner. Excerpted by permission of Dial Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Coney Island

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.