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Erasure

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,162 Ratings  ·  231 Reviews
Avant-garde novelist and college professor, woodworker, and fly fisherman - Thelonious Ellison has never allowed race to define his identity. But as both a writer and an African American he is offended and angered by the success of We's Lives in Da Getto.
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published August 1st 2001 by University Press of New England (first published 2001)
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MJ Nicholls
A strange blend of family drama and razor-sharp satire. Thelonious Ellison is an academic writer in the mould of Barthes or Derrida, whose unreadable novels upset and alienate colleagues and readers. Riled by the rise of cheap and racist "ghetto-lit," he pens a satire against the genre, which becomes unbearably popular.

Despite this mouthwatering premise, however, most of Erasure is about Ellison's relationship with his mother, a passionate woman succumbing to Alzhemier's. The story is a touching
...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 2.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Thelonious "Monk" Ellison’s writing career has bottomed out: his latest manuscript has been rejected by seventeen publishers, which stings all the more because his previous novels have been "critically acclaimed." He seethes on the sidelines of the literary establishment as he watches the meteoric success of We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, a first novel by a woman who once visited "some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days." Meanwhile, Monk struggles with rea
...more
Eugene
Jan 06, 2014 Eugene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ERASURE was published eight years ago, in 2001, before the J.T. Leroy hoax was outed and before the eerily echoing current debate over the film PRECIOUS. it's hard to discuss the novel without talking about its elaborate plot and book-within-a-book structure. here's PW's gloss:

Thelonius "Monk" Ellison is an erudite, accomplished but seldom-read author who insists on writing obscure literary papers rather than the so-called "ghetto prose" that would make him a commercial success. He finally succu
...more
Maren
Feb 27, 2008 Maren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I took an advanced fiction class from Percival Everett and admired him immensely as a teacher and person, so I finally got around to reading one of his books. I had taken a look at "Glyph" before, but "Erasure" really got me. It's the story of a brilliant Black man who defies popular (and forced) stereotypes about black men - not unlike Everett himself though I'm sure he would resent comparisons intensely.

The character - Monk - is so discouraged by the lack of audience his uber-intellectual boo
...more
Terence
Mar 24, 2012 Terence rated it liked it
Recommended to Terence by: Nation review of Erasure/Assumption
If Erasure is about anything, it’s about identity. Ones we invent for ourselves, ones we invent for others, ones that are forced on us, and ones that we lose. From the first page, the novel’s protagonist, Thelonius “Monk” Ellison, tries to establish his:

I have dark brown skin, curly hair, a broad nose, some of my ancestors were slaves and I have been detained by pasty white policemen in New Hampshire, Arizona and Georgia and so the society in which I live tells me I am black; that is my race. T
...more
Nicole
All right, so, admittedly, this is not a perfect book. It's not. The parody inset arguably goes on too long (though actually I could be convinced on that). I was much more interested in the publishing and soi-disant avant-gardist parts than the family drama parts (though there again, I suspect the family drama may be part of the point, both about form and about the 'easy lives' of those who aren't 'black enough').

But none of that stops this from being one fucking hell of a great book, or Everet
...more
Jamilla Rice
Jun 29, 2012 Jamilla Rice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thus my P.E. obsession loses its vestigial tail and sprouts wings . . .


Initially, I wanted to read through a few reviews to see how anyone really had the


balls
gumption
cojones
intestinal fortitude
audacity
insipidness
ignorance
love


to write a review.

My favorite artist is Basquiat. "Is" because although he is dead, he lives on through the massiveness of his art. Anyone who has seen his art in the flesh (and they do seem to be breathing, layers upon layers of thoughts like skin whispering to be peeled
...more
Mary
Jul 19, 2007 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie
Sep 02, 2007 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well - This was an extrememly thought provoking book and I would have given it five stars had it not been so thought provoking at times that I had some difficulty following where the author wanted me to go.

I felt the work dense -- and unfortunately I don't know Latin beyond the rudimentary and it was hard at the end to make sense of the big picture that Everett wqas painting.

But I do understand what he meant by alienation. What happens when you don't belong anywhere? And the issues he speaks to
...more
Jonfaith
The T-shirt I'm wearin' be funky as shit. But I don't give a fuck. The world be stinkin' so why not me?

My first awareness of Erasure was in Rain Taxi; damn, I used to love that publication. There were all these small presses and I would ponder the depth of each reviewed novel.

This was likely before goodreads.

I found a copy of Erasure later at a Half Price; I bought it and devoured it immediately. An academic pens inaccesible novels that no one likes. He then writes examples of Urban Literatur
...more
Cat
Feb 25, 2010 Cat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is gorgeously written, and it's a searing indictment of the publishing industry and fetishized and stereotyped blackness in popular culture. I loved the way Everett laced miniature plays throughout his text, ironic encounters between famous artists. (Cecille B. DeMille and Richard Wright was perhaps my favorite pairing.) The family relationships are drawn sparely and poignantly; Everett does an amazing job evoking the joint violence and passivity of Alzheimer's and the difficulty of be ...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This conversation between the artists de Kooning and Rauschenberg

appears in the middle of Percival Everett’s Erasure. Apparently something like this actually happened, but never mind. Everett’s version is at the heart of the title and spirit of the novel.

Rauschenberg exchanges a roof repair job for one of de Kooning’s drawings. Four weeks later:


Rauschenberg: Well, it took me forty erasers, but I did it.

de Kooning: Did what?

R: Erased it. The picture you drew for me.

K: You erased my picture?

...more
Ubik 2.0
Dec 20, 2015 Ubik 2.0 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“…le storie che hanno come protagonista uno scrittore non le ho mai sopportate”

E’ un pensiero che Percival Everett attribuisce al suo personaggio, violandone immediatamente l’assunto poiché tutto “Cancellazione” ruota proprio intorno al ruolo e all’identità di uno scrittore, Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, che per di più presenta connotati abbastanza simili ad Everett stesso.

La trama del romanzo ci porta quindi a seguire e ad empatizzare con l’intellettuale, di colore ma di estrazione borghese, costr
...more
Lesley
Thelonius Monk Ellison is forever out of place, the lone intellectual in a family of doctors, a merciless critic of mushy pseudo intellectual literature, and a black writer inspired by the classics who refuses to write about the so-called "black experience". Tired of seeing his avant garde novels pigeon-holed in the Afro American sections of book stores, and outraged at the popularity of We's Lives in da Ghetto, a self consciously "street" work of imbecilic trash, Monk decides to compose his own ...more
Gine
Jun 09, 2009 Gine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thelonius Monk Ellison is an esoteric (and, therefore, unsuccessful) novelist. His agents tell him, "The publishers all say, 'Isn't he black? Why doesn't he write black novels?'" ("How do they know I'm black?" Ellison asks.) Incensed over the immense popularity of a novel called We's Be Livin in Da Ghetto, Ellison pseudononymously* writes a hip-hop parody and is horrified by its wild success (because, of course, no one recognizes it as a parody). Ellison also has to deal with family problems: th ...more
Pete
Nov 06, 2007 Pete rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: just about everyone
Probably my favorite contemporary work of fiction, also one of my favorite all-time novels, and written by one of my two favorite authors. _Erasure_ was mostly marketed as a send-up of the publishing industry (especially in regards to race), and while it performs that function as humorously as you could hope for, its real pleasure for me was its presentation of something I guess you could call the indeterminacy of identity. Our protagonist here is black by white standards and white by black stan ...more
Gayle
Jun 08, 2014 Gayle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Percival Everett for the most part. And I loved this story about what it means to be a black writer, or to be black in general. I was most interested in his comment on the kind of black writing that sells because I think it's so true. But his writing is often a little schizophrenic for me, a little too (post)modern. It sometimes comes off a tad heavy handed as well. But what works for me really works for me, so I'll be reading more of him. I've already read Assumption which is so far my f ...more
William
May 22, 2008 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a lot of fun with this book...from his waaay over the top novel within a novel..to the imagined conversations of historical figures..it was a book I was anxious to get back to. Also included was a rather sad piece of family dynamics that the majority of the baby booming generation is currently facing..the aging of ones parents...Its not often one finds historical hilarity, skewering of authors and the publishing game, racial perceptions and stereotypes and family drama all wrapped into one ...more
Tiara
Dec 30, 2014 Tiara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I watched his lips and realized I understood nothing he was saying. His language was not mine...I could see the shapes of his meaning, even hear that his words meant something, but I had no idea as to the substance of his meaning. I nodded."

I start with this quote because I feel like so much of this novel is trying to answer the question: How does a man find his true place in the world when he wears so many different masks? The question is also: How can a black man, specifically, experience the
...more
Maria Thomarey
Oct 04, 2015 Maria Thomarey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Αστείο ειρωνικό ,δηκτικό , to the point . Ενα υπέροχο και οξυδερκές βιβλιο για τη νόσο της εποχής μας : την εύκολη ανάγνωση

Patty
Apr 25, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A shocking exposé. A cold, hard look at the marginalized, nitty gritty underworld of the middle class American intellectual.
First Second Books
It is making me LAUGH. He's a wonderful writer! I want to read All the Books by him now.
Jennifer
Nov 14, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: African-American readers, Readers of Literary prose and dark humor,
After reading "Erasure" I wondered why it took me so long to read something of Everett's. Even though this was originally published 10 years ago, Graywolf Press is re-releasing it and the subject matter has as much relevance now as it did then and, I fear, always will.

I love the balance of voices that he uses for Monk and the punch of the prose. Thelonious Monk feels like he's going crazy by the end but he's still one of the most sane people around. It's almost like a horror movie where you won
...more
Phillip
Jul 28, 2011 Phillip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
I would without hesitation stack this book up against any great postmodern work--Coetzee, the magical realists, anyone. The conception of the book is brilliant. The plot centers around Thelonious Ellison, an African-American writer of dense and unreadable prose whose aesthetic includes heavy reliance on retellings of Greek myths. As a joking parody, he writes a novel mimicing the degradingly stereotypical We Lives In Da Ghetto (his literary arch-nemisis), which Ellison publishes under the pseudo ...more
Babydoll
Jan 31, 2012 Babydoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erasure is an exceptional fictional novel by Percival Everett concerning the literary world and its controversial acquiescence of African American literature. Written with intellectual boldness and sprinkled with random comical satires as well as colorful characters, Everett creates a noteworthy novel within the confines of its pages.

Protagonist Thelonious “Monk” Ellison is an unenthusiastic academic whose career as a writer has been met with numerous rejections from publishers. Monk’s writings
...more
Gwen
Sep 16, 2012 Gwen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-spinach
Someone pointed out this book while I was reading a discussion on another site about the issues of race and publishing in America. The book addresses the popularity of the urban fiction genre (books like Push/Precious), and what that means for African-American authors who want to escape being pigeon-holed into writing about certain subjects pertaining to racial identity. This book makes the subject entertaining and most of the characters believable and sympathetic.

The plot is really split into t
...more
David Maine
Jan 26, 2012 David Maine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book. Just read it. It will shatter (perhaps) any preconceived notions of what "black writing" (whatever that might be) is. Everett throws in everything here -- a parody of academic non-writing, a demolition of white-centric notions of black literature (again, whatever that is), and most important of all, a genuinley moving story about a man alienated from his own family, coping with his aging mother's failing health.

Charles Dickens said that to write a great story, you had to "Make
...more
Abrar AlFouzan
One of the greatest novels that I had to read and I say 'had' because this is a required read for my Postgrad English lit program. This will stay with me for some time.
Derek
May 03, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
talked about it some here:
http://www.5cense.com/14/361.htm
Marissa
Apr 16, 2014 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is near and dear to my heart mostly because of it's history.

When I was a wee child of 17, I took a class in high school called Ethnic literature, taught by an amazing teacher who is now sadly retired.

This book was clearly a book we were not supposed to read in our ultra-conservative school in upstate New York. But my teacher didn't care and decided to let us read it. This book was the best time I had in any high school literature class. But one sad sad day, my teacher switched to Raisi
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thought Provoking! 1 8 Nov 19, 2013 04:56PM  
African American ...: Erasure: Finding Humor in Racism 1 17 Sep 03, 2012 10:29PM  
Literary Fiction by People of Color 44 74 Sep 16, 2008 09:19AM  
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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...

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