I’m super excited to bring to you today a guest post from Arvin Ahmadi, who is taking over Book Princess Reviews today and also the author of the new debut, Down and Across. I just finished this book a bit ago, and I really enjoyed it (my review will be coming a little bit later in the week) and you’re going to want to check this book out for sure! Let’s take a look at his post!
About the Book
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and NobleDiscover the secret to success in this incisively funny debut, for fans of John Corey Whaley, David Arnold, and Ned Vizzini!
“Quirky and charming, wise and unpredictable.” –Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite RunnerScott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can’t commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion. With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious about a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.
He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try–all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.
Topic: if Arvin had Fiora and the professor of success as his sidekick, what would he do in New York for a weekend.
You wouldn’t expect Fiora and Professor Mallard to get along. They couldn’t be more different, the crossword-writing college freshman and the MacArthur Grant “genius” professor. But when they meet ever so briefly in Down and Across, they’re a perfect match. Fiora’s adventurous drive paired with Professor Mallard’s meticulous planning help Scott tie up loose ends in DC and go home. It leaves me wondering: Do the two ever cross paths again?
Well, it turns out they do—in New York. Which is perfect, because New York is a city of people with different interests and personalities, backgrounds and cultures. Everyone here has baggage, just like Fiora and Professor Mallard. And the beauty of New York: you check your baggage at Penn Station and get a fresh start.
We’d start with the High Line, the city’s elevated park. The High Line is a former railroad track that’s been transformed into a lush, green public space with art installations and plenty of spots for lounging. It snakes for blocks between hotels and office buildings in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood. It’s the perfect Friday afternoon stroll; one second, you feel completely removed from the chaos of New York, and the next second, the city’s electricity is running through your veins.
Fiora might be tempted to challenge one of us to pull a stunt or talk to a stranger, but it’s day one, so we keep it low-key. Instead, the three of us mosey the entire stretch of the High Line, catching up. I ask Fiora about her travels—her time in Spain and around the rest of Europe. I ask if she’s ever considered writing about her wandering years. She has.
From there, we go art gallery hopping in Chelsea. On any given night, dozens of galleries are buzzing with new artists, art dealers, art connoisseurs—and wine. Fiora and Professor Mallard have a tendency to infiltrate fancy events, so they would blend in perfectly with the high class elite of the art world.
Afterwards, we’d grab a bite at Art Bar, a laid-back West Village spot with cheap burgers and plenty of couches. We’d kick up our feet and recap our gallery escapades, with Professor Mallard chiming in about the actual merits of the art.
Saturday would begin with coffee, of course. We’d get our fix from Ground Support, a coffee shop in Soho where I wrote much of Down and Across. (It’s kind of like Fiora and Professor Mallard visiting their birthplace, right?) Then we’d head over to McNally Jackson, the greatest bookstore in all the land.
Saturday afternoon, by some miracle, we would have matinee tickets to Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. Professor Mallard would find Evan’s social anxiety particularly convincing, and Fiora and I would just gush over all the feels we’re feeling. Afterwards, we’d grab a quick bite at my favorite hole-in-the-wall, Cheeky’s, before catching some improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Fiora might even raise her hand to participate—or, more likely, to volunteer Professor Mallard.
A weekend really isn’t enough time to see New York, let alone catch up with two of my favorite characters. On Sunday, I’d show them around my neighborhood in Brooklyn, Fort Greene, and we’d hit up one of its many new brunch restaurants. Maybe they’ll decide they want to stay in New York; Fiora could work for the New York Times, Professor Mallard for Columbia. But most likely, I’d say goodbye and plan to hang out with them again on the pages of Down and Across.
About the Author
Arvin Ahmadi was born and raised in Northern Virginia. He graduated from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn. Down and Across is his first novel.