People who like my work like my work for all the reasons that I would want them to like it. And the people who don’t like it, dislike it for all the reasons I would want them to dislike it..” —Percival Everrett
Someone mentioned Percival Everett at one of the writing workshops I attended this summer. I wrote the name down knowing I’d get back around to researching his work and background later, but since then the name has haunted me. I’ve seen his name on fliers, on the cover of a Callaloo journal, and recently for a book giveaway on a few other websites. Then I figured out that he’d recently released the book The Water Cure and I decided to come get my blog on. Shockingly enough, I am ashamed to say that I am totally out of the loop because one bio revealed:
Percival Everett is the author of fifteen novels, three collections of short fiction, and one volume of poetry. Among his novels are Wounded, Glyph, Erasure, American Desert, For Her Dark Skin, Zulus, The Weather and The Women Treat Me Fair, Cutting Lisa, Walk Me to the Distance, Suder, The One That Got Away, Watershed, God’s Country, his short story collection is Big Picture, and his poetry book is re:f (gesture). He is the recipient of the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the PEN/Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature (for his 1996 story collection Big Picture) and a New American Writing Award (for his 1990 novel Zulus). His stories have been included in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Short Stories. He has served as a judge for, among others, the 1997 National Book Award for fiction and the PEN/ Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1991. He teaches fiction writing, American Studies and critical theory and he has taught at Bennington College, The University of Wyoming and the University of California at Riverside. He is currently at the University of Southern California.
So where have I been? As I begin my graduate work in English (yeah, I’m studying English, so watch how the writing on this blog changes over the next few months), I am ashamed to admit that I don’t know as much about African-American literature as I seem to think. I will admit that I know a great deal, but definitely not enough. Especially if I hadn’t even heard of Percival Everett–the author of 15 novels (or more now)–until this summer. The shame of it all. As mentioned earlier, Everett has released a new book this month titled The Water Cure. Be sure to read the Washington Post’s review of this novel or continue here for a summary:
The Water Cure is the chilling confession of a victim turned villain. Ishmael Kidder is a successful romance novelist. His agent is coming to visit her usually productive client. But Kidder’s eleven-year-old daughter has been brutally murdered, and it stands to reason that he must take revenge by any means necessary. The punishment is carried out without guilt, and with the usual equipment—duct tape, rope, and super glue. But how will he explain the noises in the basement to his agent? How does he know he has the right man?
Everett has also written a few other notable (as far as other blogs and Amazon reviewers are concerned) books. One title in particular is Erasure:
Avant-garde novelist and college professor, woodworker, and fly fisherman — Thelonious (Monk) Ellison has never allowed race to define his identity. But as both a writer and an African-American, he is offended and angered by the success of We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, the exploitative debut novel of a young, middle-class black woman who once visited “some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days.” Hailed as an authentic representation of the African-American experience, the book is a national bestseller and its author feted on the Kenya Dunston television show. Her book’s success rankles all the more as Monk’s own most recent novel has just notched its seventh rejection.
Even as his career as a writer appears to have stalled, Monk finds himself coping with changes in his personal life. Forced to assume responsibility for a mother rapidly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, Monk leaves his home in Los Angeles to return to the Washington, DC house in which he grew up. There he must come to terms with his ailing mother, his siblings, his own childhood and youth, and the legacy of his physician father, a suicide some seven years before. In need of distraction from old memories, new responsibilities, and his professional stagnation, Monk composes, in a heat of inspiration and energy, a fierce parody of the sort of exploitative, ghetto wanna-be lit represented by We’s Lives in Da Ghetto. (Read more…)
Be sure to do the rest of the research on Percival Everett on your own. Don’t be lazy.
Happy reading ya’ll!