Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett
A Novel

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It's never good for art when critical jargon takes precedence over narrative sense. Whether modernist or what critics today call postmodernist, this approach leaves a story gasping for air.
-NPR

Synopsis

"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?

Let's simplify: a woman seeks an apprenticeship with a painter, claiming to be his long-lost daughter. A contractor-for-hire named Murphy can't distinguish between the two brothers who employ him. And in Murphy's 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 Everett's 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.

 

About Percival Everett

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Percival Everett is the 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 Center USA Award for Fiction. He lives on his ranch in the mountains outside Los Angeles.
 
Published February 5, 2013 by Graywolf Press. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Percival Everett by Virgil Russell
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Feb 13 2013

It's never good for art when critical jargon takes precedence over narrative sense. Whether modernist or what critics today call postmodernist, this approach leaves a story gasping for air.

Read Full Review of Percival Everett by Virgil Ru... | See more reviews from NPR

NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Adelberg on Feb 05 2013

...parts of Percival Everett by Virgil Russell are written with clarity and raw realism.

Read Full Review of Percival Everett by Virgil Ru... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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