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I Am Not Sidney Poitier

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I Am Not Sidney Poitier Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America

I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

Percival Everetts hilarious new novel follows Not Sidneys tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: “Whats your name?” a kid would ask. “Not Sidney,” I would say. “Okay, then what is it?”

Percival Everett is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of seventeen novels, including The Water Cure, Wounded, and Erasure.
Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with a strange name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunately, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.
 
Percival Everett's hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney's tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than-watchful eye of his landlord, Ted Turner, Not get arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, and sleuths a murder case in Smuteye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: "What's your name? a kids would ask. "Not Sidney," I would say. "Okay, then what is it?"  
"Constantly shifting modes, from comic realism to tall tale, from recounted dreams to refashioned movie plots, Everett's hall of mirrors narrative presents African American identity itself as rooted in contradiction."—Gregory Leon Miller, San Francisco Chronicle
"Percival Everett made news 20 years ago at the South Carolina State House, where he stopped in the middle of a speech—he had been invited by the Legislature—and refused to go on because of the presence of the Confederate flag. This gesture initiated a controversy that resulted, several years later, in the flag's removal. For this Everett will be a footnote in American history. His work, however, deserves much more attention than a footnote in American literary history. Is any American writer as undervalued as Everett? Does anyone in America write funnier books? Such questions come to mind with Everett's 17th novel and latest tour de force of purposeful nonsense, I Am Not Sidney Poitier . . . As always, Everett relies upon capriciousness to ward off reductive interpretations. And as always, his capricious style accords with a serious purpose—in this case a provocative exploration of the unstable nature of African American identity. The name 'Not Sidney' suggests an identity with origins in a negative truth—he is viewed not for who he is, but against who he is not. As indeed was the original: Sidney Poitier, the movie star himself—shimmering on the silver screen, his Bahamian accent erased—was from the start a reflection of African American pride and compromise, and of the wider culture's hopes and fears. Constantly shifting modes, from comic realism to tall tale, from recounted dreams to refashioned movie plots, Everett's hall of mirrors narrative presents African American identity itself as rooted in contradiction."—Gregory Leon Miller, San Francisco Chronicle
 
"How does a name define a person? Does a negative name define a person negatively or simply not-define him? Percival Everett plays the trickster with those questions (among many others) in this exuberant novel charting the tumultuous journey of Not Sidney Poitier from birth to maturity. Named by a mother considered hysterical by most, Not Sidney Poitier is a classic American innocent: he is kind enough not to dismiss terminally stupid people he encounters but smart enough to know what is really going on. In rural Alabama, he meets several people with the name of Scrunchy. When he, an earnest black man at the mercy of racists, asks if they had lived there long, one replies, 'I heard tell we was on the Mayweather.' Everett has so much fun with other people's vanities and foibles that he can't resist making fun of himself (or a fictional version of himself) too. Percival Everett appears as one of Not Sidney's professors, teaching 'The Philosophy of Nonsense.' What is nonsense? What is learning? What is a class? What is a professor? Not Sidney is so confused by the class that he challenges the teacher. Everett (the character) gleefully admits, 'I'm a fraud, a fake, a sham, a charlatan, a deceiver, a pretender, a crook,' with one breath and takes it all back in the next. Not Sidney's college career is only one among many great comic set pieces in this novel. There's also Thanksgiving spent with the family of Not Sidney's light-skinned black girlfriend in upscale Washington, D.C. The mother is a climber; the father is a prosperous attorney; they both vociferously oppose equal-opportunity programs. Neither likes Not Sidney (he's darker than they prefer) until they discover he's very, very, very rich. Added to the delicious Thanksgiving mix are lusty sibling rivalry and a preacher more interested in relishing side dishes than saving souls. A late night call to Professor Everett (the character) is an opportunity for Everett (the author) to opine: 'Thanksgiving fell in a third category--one big glorious lie to put a good face on continental theft.' In this literary world, you laugh but you're also going to think. Not Sidney learns more during that Thanksgiving than he did in all of the weeks of 'The Philosophy of Nonsense.' He also learns that his mother was smarter than people realized (Ted Turner in a fictional cameo knew it from the get-go); her hysteria, some readers may surmise, was probably more along the lines of righteous anger. The world Not Sidney experiences is certainly filled with events to fuel anger; that world is also so ridiculous you could die laughing. How to balance fury and laughter to live a life? How to be fully Not Sidney Poitier? These are the questions that make this comic romp so satisfying."—John McFarland, Shelf Awareness
 
"Driven by the most sidesplitting dialogue this side of Catch-22, Everett's latest tells the story of a young man named Not Sidney Poitier who bears an uncanny resemblance to the famed actor and is adept at deploying a hypnotic technique called Fesmerism. When Not Sidney is young, his mother dies, but not before becoming an early investor in Ted Turner's enterprises. The boy then moves to Atlanta, into the home of Ted Turner. Despite his vast wealth and celebrity looks, when Not Sidney ventures out into the world as a young adult, he faces bizarre, stinging and potentially deadly forms of racism. While Not Sidney comes across as a likable and thoughtful soul, he's the perfect foil for the fictionalized Turner's stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs ('I've never been struck by lightning. You?') as well as the logical absurdities that pepper the speech of his university professor who happens to be named Percival Everett. Not only is the novel smart and without a trace of pretentiousness, it shows Everett as a novelist at the height of his narrative and satirical powers."—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Driven by the most sidesplitting dialogue this side of Catch-22, Everett's latest tells the story of a young man named Not Sidney Poitier who bears an uncanny resemblance to the famed actor and is adept at deploying a hypnotic technique called Fesmerism. When Not Sidney is young, his mother dies, but not before becoming an early investor in Ted Turner's enterprises. The boy then moves to Atlanta, into the home of Ted Turner. Despite his vast wealth and celebrity looks, when Not Sidney ventures out into the world as a young adult, he faces bizarre, stinging and potentially deadly forms of racism. While Not Sidney comes across as a likable and thoughtful soul, he's the perfect foil for the fictionalized Turner's stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs ('I've never been struck by lightning. You?') as well as the logical absurdities that pepper the speech of his university professor who happens to be named Percival Everett. Not only is the novel smart and without a trace of pretentiousness, it shows Everett as a novelist at the height of his narrative and satirical powers. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

An irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America

I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

Percival Everetts hilarious new novel follows Not Sidneys tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: “Whats your name?” a kid would ask. “Not Sidney,” I would say. “Okay, then what is it?”

About the Author

Percival Everett is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of seventeen novels, including The Water Cure, Wounded, and Glyph.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781555975272
Author:
Everett, Percival
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General
Subject:
African American men
Subject:
Race relations
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20090531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.02 x 6.07 x 0.69 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » African American » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General

I Am Not Sidney Poitier Used Trade Paper
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Product details 272 pages Graywolf Press - English 9781555975272 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Driven by the most sidesplitting dialogue this side of Catch-22, Everett's latest tells the story of a young man named Not Sidney Poitier who bears an uncanny resemblance to the famed actor and is adept at deploying a hypnotic technique called Fesmerism. When Not Sidney is young, his mother dies, but not before becoming an early investor in Ted Turner's enterprises. The boy then moves to Atlanta, into the home of Ted Turner. Despite his vast wealth and celebrity looks, when Not Sidney ventures out into the world as a young adult, he faces bizarre, stinging and potentially deadly forms of racism. While Not Sidney comes across as a likable and thoughtful soul, he's the perfect foil for the fictionalized Turner's stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs ('I've never been struck by lightning. You?') as well as the logical absurdities that pepper the speech of his university professor who happens to be named Percival Everett. Not only is the novel smart and without a trace of pretentiousness, it shows Everett as a novelist at the height of his narrative and satirical powers. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,

An irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America

I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

Percival Everetts hilarious new novel follows Not Sidneys tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: “Whats your name?” a kid would ask. “Not Sidney,” I would say. “Okay, then what is it?”

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