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So Much Blue

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,112 ratings  ·  207 reviews
A new high point for a master novelist, an emotionally charged reckoning with art, marriage, and the past

Kevin Pace is working on a painting that he won’t allow anyone to see: not his children; not his best friend, Richard; not even his wife, Linda. The painting is a canvas of twelve feet by twenty-one feet (and three inches) that is covered entirely in shades of blue. It
Paperback, 236 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Graywolf Press
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Showing 1-30
3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,112 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Larry H
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up.

While I'm not one of those people who believes every painting needs to have meaning, on more than one occasion I've looked at an abstract piece and wondered just what the artist was striving for. Sometimes a painting strikes me initially as simply a jumble of colors or shapes or objects, but after looking at it a few times, suddenly everything clicks into place and makes sense.

That's how I felt about So Much Blue by Percival Everett. I'd seen some tremendously positive re
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Trish by: Ronald, Dax
Percival Everett blows the doors off with this beautifully constructed novel that holds secrets and mysteries in each of its three stories centered about Kevin, a fifty-something abstract painter living in New England with his wife and two children. I do wonder about Everett, who so gradually has become one of America’s most reliably exciting and unique novelists that his anonymity lasted long enough for him to enjoy some walking-around time without celebrity recognition. That’s probably well ov ...more
Betsy Robinson
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Cody
When I finished the last page of this gorgeous novel, I held the paperback against my heart, rocked, cried, and moaned, "Oh." That's about all you need to know.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shortlisted for the Tournament of Books 2018!

“I had come to love the power of secrets and saw every painting as a secret waiting to be revealed.”

Kevin Pace is a husband, father and painter. He is also a man with secrets. An alcoholic who doesn’t always make the right decisions, some might consider him a hot mess. And he is. But he is an endearing character because he is introspective, willing to admit his mistakes. So Much Blue shifts back and forth between three different time periods: Pres
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 ⭐ Rounded up ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2018, tob18
Something about this cover said jazz, cocktails, and mysterious woman in dimly lit club . I knew there was an extra-marital affair between a water-colourist and an older married man so I was getting ready for some good doomed love affair reading. It all seemed very promising.

Unfortunately, I am going to declare I found this all rather bland and ponderous.

Chapters alternate between three events in the narrators life, a trip in his twenties to El Salvador, a moment in Paris when he has an affa
Lark Benobi
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Every other Everett novel has been a 5 star memorably great read for me, but this one was a miss. The narrator struck me as self-indulgent rather than sincere.

The novel is written as an interwoven story of three time frames in the narrator's life, titled "Paris," "House," and "1979."

I flat-out disliked the "Paris" chapters. I had a general cranky attitude about the story of this man skanking about with a much younger woman behind his wife's back--perhaps it's a sign of current events that I cou
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What makes a masterpiece? In a career as prolific, eclectic and adventurous as Percival Everett's, his body of work the very definition of singularity, it may even be foolish to hint one book is superior to another. And while it might be brazen to assert So Much Blue may be that magnum opus, it is an accusation i gleefully declare. A blissfully precise pen firmly draws the reader into the life of Kevin Pace in his quest for absolution and closure and the novel's three timelines kept deftly aloft ...more
Edward Robert Martin
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
What Kevin does care about are the events of the past. Ten years ago he had an affair with a young watercolorist in Paris. Kevin relates this event with a dispassionate air, even a bit of puzzlement. It’s not clear to him why he had the affair, but he can’t let it go. In the more distant past of the late seventies, Kevin and Richard traveled to El Salvador on the verge of war to retrieve Richard’s drug-dealing brother, who had gone missing without explanation. As the events of the past intersect ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
It didn't take a genius to see this was not a good proposition, but it did take an idiot not to see it.

Kevin Pace is an artist. A successful artist. He's done well enough to own an ample house, with outbuildings and to send his children to a private school. And he's not happy, because of course. But there's more to it than that, and Everett takes us through three times in Kevin's life that shaped him.

The first is in 1979, when the brother of his best friend and college roommate disappears in El
Another instance in which I was caught by a beautiful cover. The story itself was very boring, ponderously so, and I just didn't care about the characters.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
My first Percival Everett novel and I would like more, please.

My full review is available here. An excerpt:

In So Much Blue we have a muted, sober rendering of what seems to be a cliché: that of the financially well-off bourgeois artist coming to terms with his life in his 50s. It’s not an easy novel to talk about or even recommend; what sounds terribly pedestrian in the description is, of course, something else entirely in Everett’s hands. The book’s narrator is Kevin Pace, now a respected abstr
Jessica Sullivan
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story about a middle-aged artist reckoning with his past takes us through three formative periods in his life.

In 1979, Kevin accompanies his best friend Richard to El Salvador to search for Richard’s brother in the increasingly dangerous country. While there, he has a life-altering experience that haunts him from that point forward.

After coming home from El Salvador, Kevin marries Linda, a woman whom he likes but doesn’t love, desperate for a sense of security and normalcy. Years later, he
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 21st-century, fiction
This novel addresses how difficult to define, and how elusive, are both love and colors. Following stories from three different episodes in the narrator's life, it also makes the case that it is possible for men to grow up even after they hit 50, which perhaps explains some of my enthusiasm. But there is also the fact that this novel offers some thought-provoking inquiry alongside absolutely gripping drama, and comedy. And Everett is just brilliant at cliche avoidance. I can't resist his prose.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful novel dealing with topics I would not normally be drawn to (art) or sympathetic toward (middle aged guy having an affair). But it's so well crafted and Everett has such compassion for his characters that I was with him every step of the way.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Kevin Pace is a well-known painter, an absent-minded father, and he is so much more: a philanderer and a drunk because above all, Kevin Pace has secrets. In So Much Blue, Percival Everett has captured the color of art along with the verdant strokes of life in a war-torn El Salvador, the romantic verve of Paris with virtuosity, and Kevin Pace as a life.

And I've had a revelation! I've been backing myself into a corner with books and narrow-minded point-of-views, as I prefer to read books mirroring
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Points for accessibility.....I didn't have any trouble reading it, I just didn't find the story particularly insightful or gripping. I need more from an author than a story about how he done his woman wrong :-) I think this one will be eliminated from the Tournament of Books early on.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what to say about this, other than that I really enjoyed it. Its tripartite alternating chapters structure works really well, and it has an almost propulsive narrative of those books you keep promising yourself to lay aside after just one more chapter...then one more...then... It basically follows the exploits of one Kevin Pace, an artist, in three separate time periods: in 1979, in his mid 20's, he accompanies his best friend Richard to El Salvador to try to find Richard's ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I was nearly halfway through before it dawned on me that this novel is clearly inspired by Joni Mitchell's 1971 album titled (shock and awe!) "Blue". The lines "I am a lonely painter...I live in a box of paints" became the proverbial thread that led me through the labyrinth. "A Case Of You" does go on to describe the frustrated longings and unattainable satisfaction Kevin and Linda live with for so long. And several other song titles ("The Last Time I Saw Richard", "This Flight Tonight", and "My ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it liked it
One thing about reading for the Tournament of Books is that it allows me to read a title with absolutely no information about it other than its author name and title. And so with So Much Blue I just jumped right in and ended up enjoying the experience very much.

The story is set in three time periods: One is the present where our narrator artist Kevin lives a comfortable, if detached life in Rhode Island with his wife and kids. The next time period is Kevin’s trip to Paris with his wife 10 years
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
I tend to have a hard time loving this kind of male character (unless written by Bret Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney) but Everett... just won me over too. What a life he painted for Kevin. I loved going along for the ride and especially enjoyed the segmentation of his youthful adventure in El Salvador (in his twenties), his "midlife crisis" in Paris (in his forties), and his late-life revelation (in his fifties).
Javier Avilés
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it
He leído la traducción de Javier Calvo para Editorial De Conatus.
Tal vez aquí pueda decir cosas que en otro sitio no me atrevería. Pero esta podría ser la novela que a Franzen le gustaría escribir si fuese capaz de escribirla, cosa que dudo. Es decir que EEUU existen escritores mucho más interesantes que los que se nos presentan como adalides de la nueva narrativa. Everett es uno de ellos.
Correctísima novela desestructurada en tres periodos de tiempo entremezclados en las que el azul, que el pr
Andy Lillich
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
To me, this is a story about the high cost of secrets - especially those that are kept.

Percival Everett is a consummate craftsman - not a word, in my opinion, not a scene, is wasted. The three-strand structure, which follows individual timelines, which at first seemed confusing, wound up sucking me completely into this character study of a man - a sort of life stages "coming of age" story that completely gripped me as I grew to care more and more about its main character, artist Kevin Pace.

I rea
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
I was so-so on this book until it really started to come together in the last quarter. Three separate storylines alternate to reveal various secrets that the narrator holds from his wife. We slowly find out what happened in a 1979 trip to El Salvador, during an affair in Paris in the early 2000s, and secrets between his wife and his children. The narrator is a painter who doesn’t like to use blue, but notes that it’s often in the under painting and influences the appearance of the final painting ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Told in three time periods, this novel ponders the effects of the past on the present and the choices we make based on those past events. Kevin Pace, a successful artist, is working in solitary on a secret project that no one can see. Two events in his past continue to haunt him, hindering his progress with his lovely family. This is the first of Everett's books I've read, but it won't be the last.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first Everett novel; very impressed. Within the first 30 pages it's apparent that we're in the hands of a very skillful and subtle writer. There are shortcuts and plot contrivances but that's somewhat beside the point with a book concerned more with artistry than with a steamrolling narrative.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very well written
Beth Dean
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing

For much of the book, So Much Blue reads like an abstract painting, the type our main character Kevin paints.

Discordant swirls of color and lines live on one canvas, not making sense, seeming to coexist with no reason. It’s almost frustrating to look at. Are we supposed to accept the art as it is: a meaningless confluence of colors and shapes?

And then it all comes together and hits the viewer with a punch of awareness. The lines and shapes and swirls suddenly make sense only with each other
Bob Lopez
Jan 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel Polansky
Three interlocking stories in the life of successful but emotionally absent middle-aged painter, whose failure to deal fully with the events of his past limit his capacity for growth and human interaction. That was a weird summary, but it’s sort of best if you go in blind. There’s something about Everett I really like, I can’t exactly put my finger on it. There’s a…subtlety, both in the language (which is spare and clever and largely unnoticeable) and in the thinking itself. It’s more than that, ...more
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Tournament of Books: This topic has been closed to new comments. So Much Blue 51 171 Mar 10, 2018 07:57AM  
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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
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“And though I missed my lover, I was not sad. I was satisfied. I was different.” 1 likes
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