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So Much Blue
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2018 TOB Shortlist Books > So Much Blue

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message 1: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy (asawatzky) | 1737 comments so let's talk about it....


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments I was not expecting to like this book. The Great Man has an affair with a young woman who idolizes him, yuk.

Somehow it pulled me in anyway (maybe because I listened to the audio & it was read by a narrator I quite like) and all the different threads held up better than I'd have thought.

In many ways, they were such stock elements
--the youth travel to *hand-wave* someplace w Spanish language and jungle roads and drug wars
--the secret-keeper's sacred place in his psyche, paired with her, like, good watercolors and nice mom to prove that he's not a total creep
--the festering dark place in his artist's soul, only to be expressed in deep privacy and away from his alienated family

I haven't read anything else of Everett's, but I guess from his bio that inventive plot elements aren't necessarily the point with him - his prose and his characterization in this were v assured & intent & I liked how tight everything was.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments I was prepared to hate this book, but it sucked me right it. It was an antidote to the usual WMFuN, from the protagonist not being another privileged white dude, to the honesty with which he confronts his mistakes. There's no deflection or rationalization going on and that was so refreshing.

The writing was so very good, too.


Anna | 16 comments While I agree the prose was good, there just wasn’t an emotional connection between this book and myself. Even though Kevin was honest with himself (somewhat), and it varied from the traditional middle-age adulterer trope, I was not drawn in and was excited when it was over. Wanting to know the secrets kept me reading but overall, the book fell flat for me.


Ryan Fields | 77 comments I started this on Sun and agree about the “self-awareness and honest self-deprecation”. I knew nothing about the book before starting and have been enjoying it thus far. However, I don’t see this going very far in the tournament.


Michelle | 155 comments Surprised there is not more discussion about this book. I really enjoyed it. Here's my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments Michelle wrote: "Surprised there is not more discussion about this book. I really enjoyed it. Here's my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."


I loved this novel. And I didn't expect to at all. But in the end, just flailing my arms around and saying that I loved it doesn't really advance the conversation. I almost hope that someone hates it so I can defend it.


Trudie (trudieb) | 27 comments Looking forward to jumping in here soon(ish) as this is my next ToB read and I am happy to see some positive reviews of this one


Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 101 comments I got 40% of the way into this book and decided it was sexist and quit. Then it made the shortlist. Does the bok get better? Does it focus a lot on the affair this old man has with the young woman? It kind of makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. If that’s a big focus of the story I’m going to have a hard time.


message 10: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan Fields | 77 comments Roughly 1/3 deals with the relationship. Sorry.


message 11: by Ed (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ed (edzafe) | 168 comments Will be purposely vague, but ultimately I think why the affair happened ends up being a much more grey issue beyond cheating = bad. That said, I am not a woman -- and even more so, a married woman -- which would quite likely shade things quite differently, but my guess is that if you had such a visceral reaction to it that far in, I have doubts it will change.

With no expectations or knowledge going in, 'So Much Blue' definitely qualified as one of those ToB pleasant surprises for me - quite impressed with Everett's prose and story crafting.


Michelle | 155 comments Ed wrote: "With no expectations or knowledge going in, 'So Much Blue' definitely qualified as one of those ToB pleasant surprises for me - quite impressed with Everett's prose and story crafting."

I felt the same way and as a married woman I did not share the same visceral response as others on this thread. I guess I wasn't really in Linda's head at the time. I was more focused on where these actions were leading Kevin and trying to figure out how they would impact the other two storylines.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments I have to agree with Michelle and Ed. While the affair was clearly a Bad Idea, it entirely avoided the usual trope of guy-justifies-his-choices that's so common.


Janet (justjanet) | 647 comments I was not overall impressed....compared to some of the other contenders I think So Much Blue is weak. This is my first read by this author and I understand he has a quite a few books to his credit. Maybe the shortlist is a nod to his other achievements?


Karen Brown (khbrown) | 54 comments Just finished my first novel by this talented author and really enjoyed it. Love how the TOB always manages to surprise me year after year with a new author. Now, on to Lucky Boy


Desta | 1 comments I too ended up liking it more than I thought I would and more than I did at the halfway point. I think some of the difficulty for me was in listening as an audiobook which had a white narrator and it was difficult for me to understand why they made that choice.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments Desta wrote: "I too ended up liking it more than I thought I would and more than I did at the halfway point. I think some of the difficulty for me was in listening as an audiobook which had a white narrator and ..."

They chose a white reader? That's interesting. And not in a good way.


Trudie (trudieb) | 27 comments I am about half way through this one and really not connecting with it at all.
I do quite like the structure, three interwoven stories from the narrators life; an affair in Paris, adventures in El Salvador and a domestic drama. But each one feels like a pastiche of some other novel, sort of like the author is trying on different styles to work out what he likes. I don't think he really carried off any of them or at least I am struggling to find some connection to the writing.

Maybe things will improve in the second half ?


Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments I admit I'm perplexed by the love for this one; I must be missing something. It's really well written, but on the other hand the Paris storyline was trite and I never entirely warmed up to the other two stories.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Gayla wrote: "I admit I'm perplexed by the love for this one; I must be missing something. It's really well written, but on the other hand the Paris storyline was trite and I never entirely warmed up to the othe..."

I want a "like" button for your comment, Gayla.


message 21: by Bob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob Lopez | 391 comments So I'm almost halfway in--the affair section I could do without; the mission to south america is kind of a mess. The only part I'm liking at the moment is the pregnant daughter bit. I'm bumping up the speed on the audiobook to get through this faster.


Ruthiella | 366 comments I think each narration is important in explaining what Kevin's work in the barn is about.

Each section is a layer of his failure, his shame, his regrets. No wonder he doesn't want anyone to see it.

Maybe, Like Idaho, it is a story one can read more into than the text offers? I also liked that it was pretty straightforward writing. I had trouble with some of the descriptions of the paintings, but more than once Kevin remarks that this is a pretty impossible feat anyway.

I liked this book and want to try some more of Everett's stuff.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments Ruthiella wrote: "I liked this book and want to try some more of Everett's stuff. ..."

That was my reaction too, like how is it that I've never even heard of this writer?


message 24: by Mo (new) - rated it 1 star

Mo (mohull) | 11 comments Not a fan of this in the least. In the current climate, I was unable to deal with what I perceived as a whiny main character and his complete lack of meaningful relationships with any women in is life. And while the ending was meant to be some big reveal, it was (to me) obvious and anticlimactic.
This was an audiobook for me, and that may have further influenced my negative ‘reading.’ As others have said, the narrator was completely off for this book. I can’t imagine this will go far.


Janet (justjanet) | 647 comments I think Pachinko's got this one.


Susanw | 21 comments wow, just finished this one and thought, this is why I love the tournament. I loved it. And am truly shocked there is so many people who didn't. His writting is fantastic and l loved that it was deep, yet funny (at times), yet also not a chore to read. I also can't believe I've not heard of him prior to now. I will definitely read more of his work.

Janet, Its funny you write that "Pachinko got this one" I read them back to back. Pachinko, then So Much Blue. And thought "So Much Blue has totally won this bracket" I found Pachinko ok, but nothing new or really exciting.


Janet (justjanet) | 647 comments Susanw wrote: "wow, just finished this one and thought, this is why I love the tournament. I loved it. And am truly shocked there is so many people who didn't. His writting is fantastic and l loved that it was de..."

LOL...yes, that's what makes it fun....we all see things differently and sometimes the judges see things that we do not.


David | 10 comments I'm struck by the influence Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album seems to have had on this novel. Link to my review below if that strikes anyone else as interesting.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Gwendolyn | 186 comments I just finished this one, and I ended up liking it quite a bit. I listened to is as an audiobook, and I thought it worked well in that format. At first, I was a bit lost with the jumping between the “House,” “Paris,” and “1979” sections, but I figured it out pretty quickly. We are getting three discrete time periods from a single life. I’m not sure exactly what point Everett is making by pulling out two incidents in the life of this artist—the El Salvador trip and the Paris affair—and then showing us a current day drama as well. I sense that the point is that the past key incidents are what made the protagonist who he is and impact how he responds in the current drama…in other words, they are the formative experiences of his life. I’m not sure I agree with the idea that we each have a few key incidents in our lives that essentially form our identities, but it’s an interesting idea, and this novel spurred me to think about that. It also got me thinking which incidents in my own life might play this role for me. All in all, I enjoyed this one. I don’t think it will win, but I’m glad I was led to read it by the TOB.


message 30: by Erin (last edited Feb 07, 2018 04:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 101 comments Mo wrote: "Not a fan of this in the least. In the current climate, I was unable to deal with what I perceived as a whiny main character and his complete lack of meaningful relationships with any women in is l..."

I finished reading this and liked it more than I thought I would, but I agree with Mo. Especially in light of the current climate, which has been how many women have felt all along, the older man/younger French woman affair turned me off. It was hard to get beyond that.

I liked how there were secrets in the 3 story lines and how he doesn't use the color blue, the color of trust and loyalty. He can handle the guilt of the affair and divulging his daughter's secret to Richard, and his South American secret, but he can't handle the shame.

When he did what he did in El Salvador, part of him "evaporated". It feels like he's disassociated and trying to put himself back together. The secret painting is a timeline with no clear points in time on it. So it must be a circle. Many brush strokes are covered up, layered. It's where he works out his depression, it's his therapy.

The big reveal was not too much of a surprise. It's what's kept Freud and Jungian talk therapy alive for all these years. In case I'm spoiling the end, (view spoiler) If it weren't for the affair, I would have liked it more. I simply could not feel compassion for the character. Pig comes to mind, even though the story was well-written and interesting.


Kelly | 28 comments I really liked this one, and didn't expect to. The affair was the weakest part - it was such a male fantasy - but the rest of the novel was pretty good and saved it for me. It came together nicely in the end, and while no part of it was particularly unpredictable, it was well-written and kept me engaged throughout. The narrator was just likable enough, but not too perfect.

It also lingered more then I would expect - it has made me think, like Gwendolyn said, about whether I have my own "key moments".

I would never have picked this up but for the TOB, so I'm pretty happy it made it in.


Rachel | 123 comments Just finished last night. This book could have been so much better and I was thinking it'd get there at the end. I wish it had committed to the CIA angle rather than "Basic Man has One Interesting Thing Happen to him that Shapes his Life Forever". Main character should have totally been recruited by the Bummer, affair story could have been a cover he told his friend on a mission or the mission itself and the secret painting shack should have been his mission control or his room of past CIA-esque sins because his wife never knew.

But no, just a loveless, semi-comfortable relationship impacted by a man who wouldn't do therapy to clear his demons.


Gwendolyn | 186 comments Rachel, LOL, your version sounds perfect!


Jessica (jessicaxmaria) | 30 comments I didn't like the protagonist much, though he probably wouldn't have cared and didn't want sympathy. I've liked plenty of other books in which I didn't like the main character. I found the story engaging and I was satisfied at the end. There were some poignant moments that I won't soon forget. Definitely going to seek out more Everett after this.

Rachel - I love your version!! It made me snort when I read it.


Jason Perdue | 630 comments Half way through the audiobook. I love the writing and how he sets up the structure early. But like a few have said, what the hell is with the white reader? It really makes no sense.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments Jason wrote: "Half way through the audiobook. I love the writing and how he sets up the structure early. But like a few have said, what the hell is with the white reader? It really makes no sense."

The narrator is someone whose work I enjoy in romance novels, so I was like "hey, Patrick! nice to hear your voice!" but the more I got into the text, the less sense it made.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Rachel wrote: "This book could have been so much better and I was thinking it'd get there at the end. I wish it had committed to the CIA angle rather than "Basic Man has One Interesting ..."

LOL! Your version would be much more entertaining, but probably wouldn't make the ToB cut.


Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 97 comments I really enjoyed this one; I thought it dealt with the trauma very well, and I liked that the affair with Victoire, which in so many other novels would have 'saved' Kevin from his PTSD, didn't actually make anything better. I was impressed with the tightness of the narrative voice, and I liked that Kevin's spoken voice was different in 1979 than in the other time periods -- it shows the craft, I think, that the register is similar across the three when he's narrating but that he speaks differently at different points -- I would need to look back over to be certain but I think that in El Salvador he's a lot more spontaneous, open, willing to show feelings, in the later times he's very locked down due to the trauma. I'm also amazed I've never heard of Everett's work, and I want to look for more.


Ruthiella | 366 comments Bryn (Plus Others) wrote: "I'm also amazed I've never heard of Everett's work, and I want to look for more"

I think that is definitely the consensus for those readers who liked So Much Blue ...like "where have you been all my life Percival?" I checked and my library only has one title: God's Country. So I will start there and see where I go.


Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 463 comments Ruthiella wrote: "...my library only has one title: God's Country. So I will start there and see where I go. ..."

And then you have to report back to the rest of us!


message 41: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy (asawatzky) | 1737 comments There was at least one person in the long list thread who was already a huge fan (Poingu maybe?) of Everett so I got the impression he had more available. Perhaps short stories?


message 42: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 51 comments Amy, I haven't read any of his books yet, but Percival Everett has a fairly lengthy body of work! He's been writing pretty steadily since the 1980's, so a bunch of his older stuff might be out of print or have been weeded out of libraries that need the shelf space.


message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 22, 2018 03:06PM) (new)

Amy wrote: "There was at least one person in the long list thread who was already a huge fan (Poingu maybe?) of Everett so I got the impression he had more available. Perhaps short stories?"

jo is also a Everett fan. This was my first of his novels, and I liked his prose, but not so much the story. Lark Benobi (formerly Poingu) suggested Half an Inch of Water, and jo recommended Erasure. I'll give those a go after the ToB.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 600 comments Tina wrote: "Amy wrote: "There was at least one person in the long list thread who was already a huge fan (Poingu maybe?) of Everett so I got the impression he had more available. Perhaps short stories?"

jo is..."

Several people recommended American Desert to me - haven't read it yet though.


message 45: by Mina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mina (minaphillips) | 45 comments Quietly coming out of my lurking mode to say - I loved this book. Didn't think I would but definitely did. I love it when that happens.


Ruthiella | 366 comments Mina wrote: "Quietly coming out of my lurking mode to say - I loved this book. Didn't think I would but definitely did. I love it when that happens."

Thanks for delurking! I love it when that happens too! One of my favorite things about the TOB is discoverability.


message 47: by Mina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mina (minaphillips) | 45 comments Ruthiella wrote: "Mina wrote: "Quietly coming out of my lurking mode to say - I loved this book. Didn't think I would but definitely did. I love it when that happens."

Thanks for delurking! I love it when that happ..."


Lurking on this board has opened my world to so many wonderful reads. Some of my very favorites have been found here. Cheers!


message 48: by Eric (new)

Eric | 90 comments I keep stumbling over some of the more "philosophical" sentences. "Hmm. What did that mean? Gotta go back and read that again."

I hope I get used to his style soon.


message 49: by Gail (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gail (gailparis) | 20 comments I'm liking the back and forth between the time periods but the "present" is just boring...


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