Synopses & Reviews
“Anything we take for granted, Mr. Everett means to show us, may turn out to be a lie.” —Wall Street Journal
* Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize * Finalist for the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction *
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 son would write?
Lets simplify: a woman seeks an apprenticeship with a painter, claiming to be his long-lost daughter. A contractor-for-hire named Murphy cant distinguish between the two brothers who employ him. And in Murphys troubled dreams, Nat Turner imagines the life of William Styron. These narratives twist together with anecdotes from the nursing home, each building on the other until they crest in a wild, outlandish excursion of the inmates led by the father. Anchoring these shifting plotlines is a running commentary between father and son that sheds doubt on the truthfulness of each story. Because, after all, what narrator can we ever trust?
Not only is Percival Everett by Virgil Russell a powerful, compassionate meditation on old age and its humiliations, it is an ingenious culmination of Everetts recurring preoccupations. All of his prior work, his metaphysical and philosophical inquiries, his investigations into the nature of narrative, have led to this masterful book. Percival Everett has never been more cunning, more brilliant and subversive, than he is in this, his most important and elusive novel to date.
"It is a testament to Everett's brilliance as a writer (I Am Not Sidney Poitier) that his latest novel, so damnably frustrating and more than occasionally tedious, is also so humanely adept at getting to the heart of the human condition. What story there is concerns an aging writer as he dictates his life's story to his son, Virgil, 'words finding the full theater of his mouth.' This writer, who may be named Percival Everett, lives in an assisted living facility, where he becomes involved in a hilarious scheme with other residents to retaliate against the mean-spirited staff. He relates other peculiar, often dubious tales, as well as family memories, some apparently true, others seemingly dreamed or imagined. In fact, everything we hear may have been invented by the fictional Everett, or it may not even be coming out of his mouth at all, but rather from his guilt-ridden but loving son. Everett has created much more than an exercise in unreliable narration, an exploration of the nature of language and the rationales we create to keep ourselves going as we grow old. By the conclusion, every sentence, indeed every word, has come to seem like a valuable key, not just to this puzzle of a novel, but to the meaning of existence." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Percival Everett is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of more than twenty books, including Assumption, Erasure, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, The Water Cure, Wounded, and Glyph; three collections of short fiction; and one book of poetry. He is the recipient of the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2006 PEN USA Center Award for Fiction. He lives on his ranch in the mountains outside Los Angeles.