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  • Away We Go
  • Written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780307475886
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Away We Go

A Screenplay

Written by Dave EggersAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Dave Eggers and Vendela VidaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Vendela Vida

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The first original screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, Away We Go is the new movie direcetd by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

Longtime couple Verona (Maya Rudolph) and Burt (John Krasinski) are expecting a baby, and the impending child's only living grandparents are moving to—where else—Belgium. So Burt and Verona head out on the road, across America, looking for the right place to call home. Along the way they encounter a succession of strange and hilarious friends and relatives (played by a cast that includes Jeff Daniels, Catherine O’Hara, Maggie Gyllenhall, Josh Hamilton, Allison Janney, and Jim Gaffigan), most of whom have no idea what they’re doing. In the end—with and despite the help of those they meet on their journey—Burt and Verona come closer to an understanding of their own definition of home and family.

Excerpt

Int. burt and verona's house--

bedroom--night

We are moving silently through a small house. We see fishing gear, snowshoes, paintings of skeletons. It's a messy, ramshackle, but still somehow charming place.

We arrive in the bedroom, where we see a woman, about 30, lying in bed, her head propped up by four pillows. She's wearing a negligee. It's very dark--we see only her silhouette.

VERONA

Burt?

Now we see that there's a man under the covers, busying himself with her nether regions.

BURT

(from under the sheets)

What?

VERONA

Don't.

There's some shuffling from Burt.

BURT

Why?

VERONA

Come back up. I want to kiss you.

More shuffling in the bed.

BURT

C'mon. I want to do this. I'm staying down here.

VERONA

(sighing)

Okay.

Verona tries to enjoy herself.

VERONA (CONT'D)

Just don't blow.

BURT

What?

VERONA

Don't blow.

BURT

Why would I blow?

VERONA

I don't know why you do anything you do, Burt. Just don't blow.

BURT

(from underneath)

Now stop moving. You're gonna love it.

VERONA

Okay. No more talking.

Burt settles in for the task at hand, then pauses.

VERONA (CONT'D)

What's wrong?

BURT

Nothing.

VERONA

Why'd you stop?

BURT

(thoughtful pause)

I'm trying to figure out the best way to say what I'm about to say.

VERONA

Why do you have to say anything?

BURT

Rona, you taste different. You know that?

Verona sits up, sighing.

VERONA

No. How would I know that, Burt?

(trying to pull him up)

Get up here. I'm not talking to the top of your head. You want me to shower?

Burt emerges from under the covers and stares at Verona.

BURT

No, you don't taste dirty, just different. Kind of . . . fruity.

(something occurring to him)

You know, a woman can taste different depending on various cofactors.

Verona sits up.

VERONA

I don't want to hear this. And I thought we agreed you wouldn't use the word "cofactor."

BURT

I said I wouldn't misuse it. All I'm saying is that from what I've read about vaginal flavor--

VERONA

Jesus!

BURT

From what I've read, abrupt changes happen when a woman's either menopausal . . .

(registering a new, momentous thought)

Or . . .

Verona slugs him. He falls off the bed.

int. burt and verona's car--driving--night

It's November, the remains of snow on the ground. Verona and Burt have just gone to the drugstore for pregnancy tests--they've bought three--and are driving home.

Verona's driving, with Burt in the passenger seat.

burt farlander is 33, white, tall, looking like he could be either an assistant professor or a lunatic shooting people from a tower--there's that funny-crazy look in his eyes. He's very straightforward and earnest, but also eccentric--the type of guy who's never done drugs, but has often gone camping nude. He reads widely but not deeply enough, and has many strange hobbies, which he indulges for short periods of time but with utter seriousness. The last such hobby was bear-tracking. Like his father, he works in the insurance business.

verona de tessant is 34 and of mixed race--her mom was white, her father black. Her parents were both academics who taught at the University of South Carolina. She's cute, funny, and has problem hair, which she's constantly trying to tame with various styles and accessories--braids, curls, pins, a scarf--though the results vary. Still, her beauty and sense of humor are alluring and inspire many admirers.

She's a medical illustrator and has the necessary combination of the artistic and the exacting. Of the pair, she is the more socially presentable and stable, and finds herself apologizing for her partner at least once a week. Still, she is devoted to him and he to her.

VERONA

Nope. I can't wait.

BURT

What?

VERONA

I'm pulling over.

BURT

We're ten minutes away. No.

She pulls over.

BURT (CONT'D)

What're you . . .

ext. highway shoulder--night

Verona is already out of the car and pushing down her jeans.

BURT

At least get off the shoulder!

Sounds of urine hitting gravel.

BURT (CONT'D)

It'll be less accurate out here.

VERONA

What?

BURT

You're supposed to do this in a bathroom. The air out here is different. The alkaline . . .

VERONA

The alkaline? The alkaline? Just . . . please. I'm done. Hold this on the end here. Verona hands him the stick. He holds it at a distance, the way you would a steaming pot, while she pulls up her pants.

VERONA (CONT'D)

Lay it flat.

BURT

Lay it flat? Like on the road? Should I lay it on the road?

VERONA

No . . . on the dashboard or something.

Verona gets back in the driver's seat.

int. burt and verona's car--night

They're in the car, staring at the stick, which has been placed on the dash.

VERONA

It's time. Turn on the light.

Burt turns on the light. It's far too dim to see anything.

VERONA (CONT'D)

That's the light? That's your interior light?

BURT

What? Yes that's my interior light! What's wrong with my interior light? You've never had a problem with my interior light before . . .

VERONA

Just-- Shut up. Turn on the headlights.

She gets out and slams the door.

ext. highway shoulder--in front

of the car--night

They're crouched on the gravel of the shoulder, both bathed in the white light of the headlights.

VERONA

Damn. I can't tell. Go do a control sample. Here.

She hands him a second stick from the package.

BURT

No. This is insane. Let's do it in the bathroom.

Verona gives him a look. Burt turns away from the car. Sounds of urine hitting gravel.

VERONA

Okay, now bring it over here.

BURT

But you said not on the road.

VERONA

I don't care what I said. We need the light.

Verona lays Burt's stick next to the other one on the road. Her movements are meticulous, precise. Burt reads the instructions while they're waiting.

BURT

So basically, one line is nothing, two lines is . . .

Verona holds up both test sticks to the beam of the headlight. It's an intimate moment, and the tone changes from madcap to ethereal. Verona looks at Burt, wide-eyed.

VERONA

Holy mother of God.

ext. colorado town--first light of dawn

We see a quick montage of local landscapes--mountains, trees, valleys, snow-capped peaks, ex-urban sprawl. This is where our couple lives.

The montage blends seamlessly into a new, strange kind of landscape.

The sun is rising over a hill. It's beautiful but also stark and perhaps even eerie, given that the hill is caramel-colored.

int. burt and verona's bedroom--first light of dawn--months later (march)

We back up a few inches and realize that the camera has lined up so Verona's belly--five months pregnant--looks like a small round mountain, and the sun appears to be rising behind it. Burt appears in close up behind Verona's belly.

int. burt and verona's bedroom--morning--later

We hear vague sounds of scraping.

Verona wakes up, turns over, sees Burt sitting up, with a knife and a piece of wood. The wood is about six inches long, and very sad-looking, like a wooden carrot.

BURT

Hey. I'm glad you're up.

VERONA

What are you doing?

BURT

What does it look like? I'm cobbling.

Verona laughs.

BURT (CONT'D)

I want to be a dad who knows how to carve stuff out of wood. I want our kid to get up in the morning, put on her hip-waders, walk out to the back porch, and find me cobbling.

VERONA

You're not cobbling. And why would she be wearing hip-waders?

BURT

(he briefly considers answering the second question but realizes he can't, so moves

onto the first)

I am cobbling. Look. I've got a knife and this wood and I'm making a toy . . .

(looking at the shapeless blob of wood)

. . . stick. I'm cobbling.

VERONA

You're not. That's not what it's called.

BURT

Of course it is. How would you know? You don't have one of these.

(indicating the knife)

VERONA

Burt, cobbling is shoes. That's why the people who make shoes are called cobblers. You're not cobbling. You're carving. Or whittling.

Burt thinks for a while. It dawns on him that she's right. This takes some of the appeal out of it for Burt. He stops carving. He rests his pathetic wooden worm/stick on Verona's stomach.

BURT

Look, she likes it. I saw her kick.

VERONA

No you didn't.

BURT

I can do other things, too. I just bought a book about knots. Three hundred knots, and I'm gonna learn them all. And I'm gonna build a kiln.

Verona goes into the bathroom.

VERONA

Remember we go to your parents' house this afternoon.

Burt calls from the other room.

BURT (O.S.)

I was thinking--we really have to get some bigger bats.

No response from Verona. He reenters the room and stands in the doorway.

BURT (CONT'D)

I know the reasonable part of you agrees with me.

VERONA

We're fine, Burt. You already set up your whole apparatus.

Burt moves into the living room while getting dressed.

Behind him, just inside the front door, Burt has set up a bat-holder, where he keeps three bats for home protection--one standard aluminum bat, one plain wooden bat, and one much-more-threatening wooden bat with three nails driven through it.

BURT

I need more weapons if something happens to you two.

VERONA

What would happen to us?

BURT

Good. I knew you'd be with me on this. I'm gonna price some crossbows on the way home. I have that family defense class today.

Burt emerges from the bedroom wearing camouflage pants and boots. He's clearly trying to look like a commando, but the jerry-rigged result is unconvincing.

VERONA

Does anyone else there dress like that?

Burt moves into the living room, looking for something in the cluttered living room.

BURT

Where are those goggles you had?

VERONA

My airbrush ones? You can't use them.

He finds them hanging from the lamp on Verona's drafting table and grabs them.

BURT

Thanks.

(putting them on)

I'll be back at three. Might be later if we get into some empty-hand offense. See you guys.

He leans down to kiss Verona's lips passionately and her stomach gently, and then walks out the door and down the hallway.

ext. burt and verona's house--morning

We follow Burt out the door, where we see that they live in a small ranch house, one step up from a trailer, attached to a small grungy yard. He gets into a crumbling old Volvo and drives off.

int. burt and verona's car--morning

Burt is driving and listening to a Teach Yourself Mandarin tape. He enthusiastically repeats some phrases.

TAPE

(first in English, then in Mandarin)

Do you own a boat?

BURT

(repeats the Mandarin version while continually scraping the frost from

the inside of his windshield)

TAPE

Are you happy with your current insurance carrier?

(then in Mandarin)

BURT

(repeats the Mandarin version)

TAPE

What kind of boat do you own?

int. house--verona's office/

studio--midmorning

The sounds of huffing and puffing. We think for a second that Verona's exercising, or in labor. Then we see Verona reclining on a couch staring at the TV.

On the TV a prenatal exercise video is playing. On screen, there are three women doing supra-geeky aerobic routines. They look like they're direct from 1986, with headbands and leg-warmers and poofy hair. The decor is ridiculous--as if they're exercising in a Price Is Right living room interior.

Verona is talking on the phone.

VERONA

I wish you could see this, Grace.

int. grace's office--phoenix--midmorning

We see Grace, Verona's sister, on the other end of the phone.

grace is striking-looking: caramel-skinned, thin, curvy. She's immaculately dressed, projecting an air of sophistication and professionalism. She paces around her office at work--a resort in Phoenix, dramatic desert view--with a hands-free device attached to her ear.

VERONA

You want to hear the rhyming couplets?

You'll get much more from your pelvic floor

When you pass on the bagel

And do one more kegel

GRACE

(laughing)

No!

VERONA

You like that? Jesus. Grace, tell me: Do I have to be uncool for the rest of my life?

Verona uses a remote to mute the TV. She grunts while getting off the couch.

GRACE

What are you doing? You're talking to me while you're exercising?

VERONA

No, just watching it. I've got this subdural hematoma thing due Friday. Trying to finish it before we go out tonight.

Verona sits down at her drafting table, and we see that her studio is a cramped and messy place--full of illustration board, canvases, hundreds of markers and small paint containers. All over the walls are unsettling photos of people and animals mid-surgery. A skeleton hangs in the corner.

Verona takes a brush in her hand and resumes working while still on the phone. We see that Verona is working on an illustration of one step of a brain surgery. It's a craniotomy--a flap of skin has been peeled back and a portion of skull removed, revealing the subject's brain.

GRACE

(surprised)

Out? You two? Where?

VERONA

Dinner at Burt's parents.

GRACE

(gently mocking, given this constitutes a big night out for Burt and Verona)

Oooh!

(now sincerely)

They must be out of their minds excited.

VERONA

You know them. I think they're actually happy to be the only set of grandparents. To have the baby to themselves.

GRACE

Don't say that.

(wistful)

You're lucky to have them so close.

VERONA

I know, I know. Believe me, we're gonna lean pretty hard on them.

GRACE

You know I'd be there if I could. I hate that I'll be so far away. I'll just have to come and take her on her first big adventure.

VERONA

What? When?

GRACE

Right away. I'm going to take her to Barcelona and show her where I lost my virginity.

VERONA

She's a fetus, Grace.

GRACE

Who do you think she'll look like?

VERONA

I hope she doesn't have Burt's . . .

GRACE

Facial hair?

VERONA

(laughs)

Feet.

GRACE

Those square feet.

VERONA

Like seal flippers.

Laughing, Verona lets her brush drift a bit.

VERONA (CONT'D)

Oh shit. I just gave this guy's brain a vulva.

int. karate-type studio--day

Burt is now in a class with a dozen other men, lined up in neat rows. The instructor is a Navy SEAL-type, also wearing goggles. Behind him are inflatable models of a wife and two small children. The wife is wearing a halter top and the children both have (real) iPods attached to them.

INSTRUCTOR

Will you be there to defend your family?

BURT

(in unison with the others)

I will!

INSTRUCTOR

Do you have the skills to prevent them from being taken from you, leaving you bereft and emasculated?

BURT

(in unison with the others)

I do!

With that, the instructor steps over to Burt and gives him a roundhouse kick to the side of the head. Burt goes down. We see the instructor from Burt's perspective, hovering over him, the inflatable family in the background.

INSTRUCTOR

Not yet you don't.

(walking away)

And not in those pants.
Dave Eggers|Vendela Vida

About Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers - Away We Go

Photo © Michelle Quint

Dave Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. In 2002, he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco’s Mission District. Sister centers have since opened in seven other American cities under the umbrella of 826 National, and like-minded centers have opened in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other locations. His work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, France’s Prix Médicis, Germany’s Albatross Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the American Book Award. Eggers lives in Northern California with his family.  
 

About Vendela Vida

Vendela Vida - Away We Go

Photo © E.D.L.M.

Vendela Vida is the author of the critically acclaimed novels And Now You Can Go and Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, as well as Girls on the Verge, a journalistic exploration of female coming-of-age rituals. She is a founding coeditor of The Believer magazine.
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  • Away We Go by Written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida
  • June 02, 2009
  • Performing Arts - Screenplays
  • Vintage
  • $14.00
  • 9780307475886

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