Percival Everett by Virgil Russell
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Percival Everett by Virgil Russell

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  112 ratings  ·  31 reviews
“Anything we take for granted, Mr. Everett means to show us, may turn out to be a lie.” —Wall Street Journal

A story inside a story inside a story. A man visits his aging father in a nursing home, where his father writes the novel he imagines his son would write. Or is it the novel that the son imagines his father would imagine, if he were to imagine the kind of novel the s...more
Paperback, 227 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Graywolf Press
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MJ Nicholls
Due to an increased workload and slavish devotion to my ongoing novel (provisional title: How the World Has Wronged Me and the Various Petty Revenges I Will Get on All You Selfish Bastards), plus a vexing social life to crush into submission, I have little time for meviews these daze. So—this is the best Percival Everett so far—a mind-boggling mix of unreliable and confused narrators exploring a father and son at the time of the father’s death—both personae writers whose stories and inventions m...more
Patty
Two or three days into my second reading of Percival Everett by Virgil Russell. [I might add to or change this review in a few days.]

A friend of mine once said of the novel Terra Nostra, by Carlos Fuentes, that it was either one of literature's greatest accomplishments or it was a giant pile of excrement, and that he would never know which. My friend was a very smart guy, and he was proud of being smart, and in his comment I heard "If I can't parse this thing, who can?" That's a little bit like...more
John Pappas
At once intensely personal and highly abstract, filled with, for the reader, both warm recognitions and dense alienating prose, Everett's new novel is a wonderful, but utterly confounding and mystifying, tale of a father and son. Channeling David Markson and Thomas Bernhard, Everett here takes many of his common themes and motifs but fractures and refracts them progressively throughout the novel. Because of the narrative ambiguity and unreliability it is difficult even to provide a summary of ev...more
Andre
Too clever? Anyone who has read Percival Everett knows he is one of the greatest writers of this time. And his talent is always on full display in all of his work. However, the circuitous nature of this novel makes this a difficult book to enjoy and review. Perhaps he was attempting to be too clever with the shifting narrators, is it the father, the son, or the son writing as the father would have wished? The decision to do it that way obstructs the flow of the novel and keeps it from making gre...more
Cassondra Windwalker
It is difficult to review this book. It is a satire, certainly, containing all of the academic identifiers of a satire, but absolutely barren of even black humor. It cannot be described as a story - the narrator himself, whoever that is, decries the very notion of a story. Many tales are begun, but none of them are finished. Character after character, setting after setting, is introduced, and it is worth noting how swiftly and with what a light hand the author paints each of them into vivid life...more
Tuck
graywolf, taking 2013 by storm, first of all. 2nd, everett both shows off, and boors(sp?), i think intentionally as HE writes and a non-writer (his dad, but his dad is also a writer's writer, huh? yes both at once) writing about a writer writing, and tells a few different storylines while at it, and some bio? and autobio? and of course some political opinions of current events, and tv, and the weather (can no one avoid the weather?)
so here's a short quote, percival is taking to his "dad" virgil...more
Brooks
A book containing overtly sad material, overt positivity, and humor, that also plays with form. A longer review is here: http://bit.ly/13oB607
Jason Edwards
Reading this I was reminded of some other novel Everett wrote where some writer complained that his books, academic and impenetrable, where nevertheless shelved in the “African America” section of the bookstore. Which at the time was a send-up of political correctness—but now we’re in this post-ironic age and I feel like more he(the character) was complaining about First World Problems. After all, if Everett’s a writer’s writer, then for every book he writes that’s put on a shelf, there’s thousa...more
Peter
This reminded me of the card game fluxx, in which the rules change repeatedly, so that you can be on the verge of winning according to one set, when the rules suddenly change and you've lost. The experience of reading this book is similarly disorienting. And yet there are enough ways in which I found myself drawn in, in a conventional way I suppose, that the novel, or rather the novel within the novel, or maybe various of the novels within the novel, where was I, well I felt for him or them, the...more
Dan
I dunno, I liked it at times. At least during the times I understood what was going on. For some reason this was a tough read, maybe it was the word play and the different narratives. I could be I wasn't in the mood, or perhaps I am not smart enough to have enjoyed this book.

Regardless of my issues I kept thinking, "I wish Everett would get out of his own way and just tell us a great story." Which is something he is very capable of. I feel like a great story beats the writer's technical pyrotech...more
Full Stop
Jun 11, 2014 Full Stop added it
Shelves: spring-2013
http://www.full-stop.net/2013/04/08/r...

Review by Daniel Green

If it is accurate enough to call Percival Everett a satirist, the effect of his satire, which is otherwise uncompromising and thoroughgoing, varies according to the subject and, especially, the formal assumptions at work in particular novels. In 2011’s I Am Not Sidney Poitier, the satire is of a more or less conventional kind in which mocking, often corrosive humor is used for the traditionally corrective purpose of satire — to call a...more
Margaret
I was provided a copy of Percival Everett by Virgil Russell through the GoodReads First Reads program from Graywolf Press.

I'm on the fence about this novel. It's written in a very meta way, about a father and son who may or may not exist making up stories about people who are probably made up but the reader is not 100% sure. There are so many plots and subplots in the first part, with the next two portions becoming even more convoluted, but not convoluted in a bad way. The ending parts were esp...more
Michael
This is a novel-within-a-novel. Pages 103-197 of a 227-page book (and a much larger percentage of the total word count) make up a stand-alone narrative about a nursing home. This section doesn't work. The characters are flat and too many in number, the escapades are "zany" in an annoying way, the grasps at profundity don't connect. He's off his game.

It's disappointing, because the first hundred pages are fantastic. They had me buzzing. It was the most structurally daring thing yet from Everett,...more
Dan Coxon
"This is a difficult novel to read. Some chapters are obscure enough to read like abstract poetry, and while others rely upon more traditional plot structures, it’s never long before these structures start to warp and change. The first third of the novel vaguely follows a narrative about a handyman/doctor who falls in with a pair of overweight brothers, and you might almost feel that you’re starting to get a grip on where things are heading. Then Everett pulls the ground from beneath our feet. T...more
Carl
Overall I liked the book. A short way in I almost put it down for good. I am glad I pushed through, because some parts were very good and spot on. Almost curmudgeonlike, not angry though, but seeing things more realisticly, sad as they are. I may go back through and highlight these passages. Other parts of the book I just didn't get, like the Math and some parts I couldn't connect with any of the rest of the book. I'm probably not smart enough. If there are chapters, #44 at first I thought was...more
Ray
I have no idea what this book means. This passage from near the end at least let me off the hook to try:

"I thought for a while that we we were supposed to make sense out of nonsense and then I thought we were supposed to turn sense into nonsense and now I know that we're supposed to make sense that sounds like nonsense and then call the sense nonsensical."

I felt really lost as of the chapter that listed adverbs. I really appreciate the experimental and fun approach Everett takes toward writing b...more
Chante Reid
This was either the best book I've ever read or the worse. Still not sure....
Vonetta
You know how, when you're lost and it's funny, then it's okay that you're lost, kinda like God's playing a joke on you and you're in the know? But when you're lost and it's not funny, then it's scary and everyone wants to run for their lives.

I was lost with I Am Not Sidney Poitier, but it was hilarious, so I just leaned into it, trusted the narrator, and ate it all up. I was even more lost with Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, but it wasn't funny, so I recoiled, afraid, and unable to trust t...more
Michael
I'm a die-hard Percival Everett fan, but alas, I must confess that this one just didn't do it for me like _I'm Not Sidney Poitier_ or _American Desert_ or even another of his "experimental novels," _The Water Cure_. I'm OK with his casting a lot of plot lines and only reeling in one or two. I just missed the rapier wit and the deep thought that I often found in other Everett books. I saw a smattering of such in this book, just not as much as I'm used to.
Summer
3.5, actually.
Sarah
Reading this felt like I was wrestling with the author, trying to keep the barest grasp on what was going on. While there was clearly an enormous amount of work put into this book, it struck me as nihilistic. I finished the book out of spite. By the end, I only kind of had an idea of what was going on, and I think that was the point.
Chelseyam
I enjoyed the stream of consciousness writing, but at times it just didn't flow, or went off in a direction that just didn't feel right. There was also a lot going on that didn't get addressed later on, but I guess this is partially what the book was about..that's life. It was a nice relaxing read though.
Rob P
Moments of brilliance surrounded by moments that made me wonder why I even bothered. Many parts of the story left untold. I was able to "get" this just enough that it was worth reading, but I was really wishing for a little structure. I keep thinking that if I read it again that would be helpful.
Rebecca Gernon
An enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, buried inside mumbo jumbo. I found the book difficult at best to read. Completed half and then gave up, far too confusing fir an enjoyable read. Parts held my interest, but the jerky, disjointed way it was written was far too distracting.
Sps
LJ says: "An elderly man pens the novel he thinks his son would write-or perhaps it's the novel his son thinks his father might write were he writing like the son-as a contractor dreams about Nat Turner imagining the life of William Styron."
Michelle Hopkins
This book was a little hard for me to follow at first, but once I got into it, it really came together. The interaction between this son and his elderly father was very real and would appeal to anyone who has a parent in the autumn of their life.
Matty
It's hard not to enjoy a novel about a father writing about his son writing about his father writing about his son (writing about his father)
Caitlin
First half 5 stars, second half 3, but thrillingly weird throughout and a reminder of why I read, write, and why Percival Everett is a damn genius.
Jonathan
Not his best. Meta-fiction that's a little too heavy on the "meta."
Leah
"Oh, that's what 'epiphany' means!"
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Percival L. Everett (born 1956) is an American writer and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.

There might not be a more fertile mind in American fiction today than Everett’s. In 22 years, he has written 19 books, including a farcical Western, a savage satire of the publishing industry, a children’s story spoofing counting books, retellings of the Greek myths...more
More about Percival Everett...
Erasure I am Not Sidney Poitier American Desert Assumption Wounded

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