Read [Erasure author Percival Everett] Author Percival Everett
A Wayside Tavern yThe reverberations of his father s suicide sevenears before In his rage and despair Monk dashes off a novel meant to be an indictment of Juanita Mae Jenkins s bestseller He doesn t intend for My Pafology to be published let alone taken seriously but it is under the pseudonym Stagg R Leigh and soon it becomes the Next Big Thing How Monk deals with the personal and professional fallout galvanizes this audacious hysterical and uietly devastating novel My Review Why am I giving this only two and a half stars Because in my world books that have satirical aims should have sharp focus and clear line of sight on their target I m not clear on the target here Modern Murrikin kulcher in general Political Correctness and its idiotic unintended side effect of glamorizing substandard stuff The sad fate of a critically acclaimed but commercially ignored writer All of the above seems to be the answer Everett gives and this is the source of my discontent With that many targets in his sights plus the plight of children of aging parents plus the sibling dynamic in a family of high achieverstoo much Nothing gets enough time or attentionIt s a damn shame too because Everett can write his tuchus off and should have spent his seed a wee tiny bit carefully In the ten For Fear of Little Men years since the novel was first published it has sadly not become less timely So there s that going for it But really with all the terrific books there already are to read why spend money and eyeblinks on an almost good one This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License If Erasure is about anything it s about identity Ones we invent for ourselves ones we invent for others ones that are forced on us and ones that we lose From the first page the novel s protagonist Thelonius Monk Ellison tries to establish his I have dark brown skin curly hair a broad nose some of my ancestors were slaves and I have been detained by pasty white policemen in New Hampshire Arizona and Georgia and so the society in which I live tells me I am black that is my race Though I am fairly athletic I am no good at basketball I listen to Mahler Aretha Franklin Charlie Parker and Ry Cooder on vinyl records and compact discs I graduate summa cum laude from Harvard hating every minute of it I am good at math I cannot dance I did not grow up in any inner city or the rural south My family owned a bungalow near Annapolis My grandfather was a doctor My father was a doctor My brother and sister were doctorsWhile in college I was a member of the Black Panther Party defunct as it was mainly because I felt I had to prove I was black enough Some people in the society in which I live described as being black tell me I am not black enough Some people whom the society calls white tell me the same thingThe hard gritty truth of the matter is that I hardly ever think about race Those times when I did think about it a lot I did so because of my guilt for not thinking about it I don t believe in race I believe there are people who will shoot me or hang me or cheat me and try to stop me because they do believe in race because of my brown skin curly hair wide nose and slave ancestors But that s just the way it is pp 1 2There are two foci to the book The first is the satirization of the publishing industry the second is Monk s relationship with his familyMonk s books languish unread because publishers and bookstores don t know how to market him A publisher complains in a rejection letter that he shows a brilliant intellect certainly It s challenging and masterfully written and constructed but who wants to read this shit It s too difficult for the market But who is he writing to Does the guy live in a cave somewhere Come on a novel in which Aristophanes and Euripides kill aounger talented dramatist then contemplate the death of metaphysics And a reviewer moans that one is lost to understand what this reworking of Aeschylus The Persians has to do with the African American experience When the authentic African American novel We s Lives In Da Ghetto by Juanita Mae Jenkins whose experience of inner city life extends to a All right so admittedly this is not a perfect book It s not The parody inset arguably goes on too long though actually I could be convinced on that I was much interested in the publishing and soi disant avant gardist parts than the family drama parts though there again I suspect the family drama may be part of the point both about form and about the easy lives of those who aren t black enough But none of that stops this from being one fucking hell of a great book or Everett from being ridiculously under read Because here s what whatever sour grapes I may have expected feared from this particular set up the man has a point Where are this book s readers Surely we could spare some percentage of those currently attributed to say Junot Diaz to say nothing of Harper Lee to read what is just an empirically better book On the language use writerly chops front there is no comparison But what s even better when Twig the Fairy and the Goblin Masquerade (Twig the Fairy you read this bookou can see glimmering there behind the prose the shape of the intelligence that made it and going by the results Percival Everett is one hell of a smart guy If we are even going to leave behind the morass of hysterically exaggerated pseudo political denunciatory smarm that masuerades as a discourse about race well and as a discourse about anything at all we are going to need smarter people to do the discoursing And perhaps we wouldn t even be in this fucking mess to begin with if people were reading books that actually know how to maneuver the power tools of language without lopping off a finger people who know how to make something a little better than a lumpen ashtray for their moms in ceramics class People might already understand that say writing a negative review of Go Set a Watchman is NOT in fact tantamount to elder abuse because that s a term that means chaining Sanity is the Future of Wealth your granny to the radiator not doingour job as a reviewer by writing about a much talked about piece of published fiction People might have better success evaluating where the tough ethical issues actually do and do not lie and which words are actually appropriate for which events In some ways I think the issues are actually bigger and all encompassing than our friend Monk allows for I think Mr Dullard will win that rigged game no matter who plays against him race gender creed whatever because the underlying problem is that the world likes dull It may be worse for an author of color but the problem goes way beyond that It s also because well Mr Dullard has got a lunch later on today with Hustvedt s Mr Glib and they are going to market the shit out of him creating a media event which make Twilight look like Jelena '93 your block s garage sale And who are thesepeople who claim to be powerless over the market as if it were just some entity lurking there in the dark a bogey man waiting to eat us all cause what canou do gotta pay the mortgage as IF they did not create this very same market because nobody and I mean nobody in giant all powerful corporate america puts that much uncle fucking moola in their marketing budget if they do not think that that shit is working To parapharse Aaron Sorkin people who cannot manage to sell Percival Everett books should get out of the
Selling Stuff Business This Book stuff business This book our guy does show some of that though he sees this phenomenon as part and parcel as a kind of drooling lusty slavering over his masuerade of put on blackness It s possible that I think this is a missed opportunity again though I could be convinced But it s also possible that PE and I just differ which is one of those things that can happen to ou when the person with whom ou are engaged with whose art ou are engaged is actually smart and is willing to step up and have a fucking opinion And that s what this is This is somebody kitchen knife sharp going all in Whatever the book s imperfections may or may not be they are not due to catering to the market to fear or compromise or lack of courage or wussing out I simply cannot believe that there is no market for that actual uote from one of my book groups on this here site The author does allow as how Adam Gopnick may not be entirely to blame as someone else at the NYer might have headlined the piece apparently offensively titled Harper Lee s failed novel Words unusually fail me Luckily they did not fail Tom Scocca SADLY IN THESE DAYS OF CIVILITY in these days of civility identity politics one can never read this piece too many times To be clear it s not that I doubt that this is a thing I feel sadly all too ready to believe that this commodification of
Blackness Complete With Grotesue complete with grotesue overtones is a thing I just don t think that it is what is wrong with publishing. E ghetto wanna be lit represented by We's Lives in Da Ghetto But when his agent sends this literary indictment included here in its entirety out to publishers it is greeted as an authentic new voice of black America Monk or his pseudonymous alter ego Stagg R Leigh is offered money fame success beyond anything he has known And as demand begins to build for meetings with and appearances by Leigh Monk is faced with a whole new set of problem. .
Percival Everett ☆ 3 free read.
Believe But then ou re just insaneThat is what it is to attempt to review an Everett book The massiveness the layers the living breathing organism which is his work orders Faerie you to tread lightly and be certain ofour steps almost punking ou out of making any attempt at allThelonius Monk Ellison Monk Monksie Theo Ellison Mr Monk has never felt a part of anything least of all his dysfunctionally ideal upper middle class Washingtonian family His contempt for all things disingenuous including himself at times has alienated him from his colleagues and his readers whomever they might be It is only after the combination of a family tragedy and mourning sickness like reaction to the runaway success of one Juanita Mae Jenkins novel We s Lives In Da Ghetto does he decide to write his own parody of what he sees as the racist drivel which the sheep like masses consume grazing wherever they are herded by the media and their own embryonic palates What follows is a series of events that ask1 What is the responsibility of the artist to hisher art and form2 Should one be true to duty or true to love3 Is it possible to be loyal to love but not to a lover4 Is keeping it real selfish to a fault5 Can ou truly love someone and be disgusted by the idea of their presence Can that someone be oneself6 Does the weight of a secret outweigh friendship and family7 Who is hurt by stereotypes The tereotypes or the stereotypers8 Is a black artist black then an artist an artist then black or is this just a dumb ass uestion that people need to finally stop asking9 Can an intellectual ever really love and live with someone who has remedial taste in books without holding them in contempt of art10 Can I too write a crappy book in a week and get a 300000 check for poisoning the literary community and perpetuating stereotypes for decades to come No Really Can II can t say much without pre empting Goodbye Soldier War Biography your ahh moments but I will say that the structure itself with the ancient Greek like choruses of artists conversations and fishing and woodworking metaphorical tales only solidifies the truth in my prior PE comment We re not worthy Favorite uotesDammit a table was a table was a tableThe center of the tree is the heartwood It does little t feed the tree but it is the structural support The sapwood which feeds everything is weak and prone to fungi and insect damage The two look the same Butou want the heartwood You always want the heartwoodMy journal is a private affair but as I cannot know the time of my coming death and since I am not disposed however unfortunately to the serious consideration of self termination I am afraid that others will see these pages Since however I will be dead it should not much matter to me who sees what or whenThe hard gritty truth of the matter is that I hardly ever think about race Those times when I did think about it a lot I did so because of my guilt for not thinking about itBut this book was a real slap in the face It was like strolling through an antiue mall feeling good liking the sunny day and then turning the corner to find a display of watermelon eating banjo playing darkie carvings and a pyramid of Mammy cookie jarsAnyone who speaks to members of his family knows that sharing a language does not mean Cinnamon and Elephants: Sri Lanka and the Netherlands from 1600 (Rijksmuseum country series) you share the rules governing the use of that language No matter what is said something else is always meant A metaphor cannot be paraphrased if I had been in her office looking the part she would have been tearing off her blouse and crawling across her desk toward me perhaps not literally but at least literarilyI wouldn t use the clich that I was the captain of a sinking ship that implying some kind of authority but rather I was a diesel mechanic on a steamship an obstetrician in a monasteryThere are as many hammers as there are saws A misplaced thumb knows no differenceFor all the aggravation a trout can cause it cannot think and does not considerou A trout is very much like truth it does what it wants what it has to doI select my fly one I ve tied at streamside plucking a couple of fibers from my sweater to mix with the dubbing to get just the right color I present the fly while hiding behind a rock or in tall grass and wait patiently Then there are times when I wrap pocket lint around a hook splash it into the water while standing on a fat boulder Both methods have worked and failed It s all up to the troutI have often stared into the mirror and considered the difference between the following statements1 He looks guilty2 He seems guilty3 He appears guilty4 He is guiltyThis is a tortuous journey through the banalI had to rescue myself find myself and that meant it was ever so clear for a very brief moment losing myself On Not Fitting In Racism is of course one of a large family of cultural behaviours which includes misogyny anti Semitism Islamophobia and xenophobia among many others We are told by sociologists that these behaviours are in some sense normal because we have a natural human preference for those who are like
OURSELVES FOLK HAVE A RIGHT TO VALUE WHAT THEYFolk have a right to value what they and feel familiar with politicians say Because such preferences are instinctive there is really no way to inhibit them lawyers chime in Victims shouldn t take them personally contend the perpetrators such behaviour is the conseuence of multi cultural society and must be tolerated Corporate marketers are just glad they have something on which to hang their promotionsBullshit If preferences were a function of values they can be exercised freely and without fanfare in most modern societies The driving force of these behaviours is not any positive value but negative fear The instinct involved is not group solidarity but the terror of Uncertainty Prejudice Is Not Prejudice is not expression of culture it is an attack on possibility that all culture is relative Every form of prejudice is a statement of veiled doubt about truths that one prefers not to examine too closely Christianity as the religion of love democracy as the rule of the people civilisation as a European invention patriotism as a virtue or being black demands writing black books But there is much bigger and general fear a fear that is so terrifying that it has not be given a proper name This is the fear of difference per se a fear of that which does not conform to any categorisation even of existing prejudices Someone who is neither white nor black religious nor atheist male nor female is a threat simply because they cannot be placed and dealt with through the logic of prejudice These are the existential non conformists I get the paradox of naming them as such so eat this term before reading They may be political but they would never join a political party Whatever they do to make a living never becomes their self identity Those they associate with they treat civilly but not as friendsSociety erases these people from its collective consciousness but not its unconsciousness in which social anxiety without a name grows They have no status whatsoever they are non persons Nonetheless they have identifying characteristics they are uncomfortable with cocktail party chat they mistrust all institutions and their most enthusiastic promoters and although they are often fluent in the professional vocabulary and speech patterns of the moment they don t believe any of it This last makes them particularly dangerous because it suggests that they are effectively fifth columnists deep cover agents of some unknown but dangerous alien presenceOn the other hand no one ever went broke overestimating the aesthetic of fear in the market The existential non conformist therefore has a real problem Is there such a category as fake authenticity Perhaps But being neither entirely in nor entirely out is sure to cause immense fear among those who want certainty Call it adaptive irony And then forget Valkea kuin lumi you ever heard about it Only after having written this did I realise the influence of Ursula Le Guin in The Left Hand of Darkness No I don t mean love when I say patriotism I mean fear The fear of the other And its expressions are political not poetical hate rivalry aggression It grows in us that fear It grows in usear by ear Isn t the subtlety by which we develop our views incredible Rating 25 of fiveThe Publisher Says Thelonious Monk Ellison s writing career has bottomed out his latest manuscript has been rejected by seventeen publishers which stings all the because his previous novels have been critically acclaimed He seethes on the sidelines of the literary establishment as he watches the meteoric success of We s Lives in Da Ghetto a first novel by a woman who once visited some relatives in Harlem for a couple of days Meanwhile Monk struggles with real family tragedies his aged mother is fast succumbing to Alzheimer s and he still grapples with. The Kenya Dunston television show The book's success rankles all the 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 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 exploitativ. .
ERASURE was published eight ears ago in 2001 before the JT Leroy hoax was outed and before the eerily echoing current debate over the film PRECIOUS it s hard to discuss the novel without talking about its elaborate plot and book within a book structure here s PW s glossThelonius Monk Ellison is an erudite accomplished but seldom read author who insists on writing obscure literary papers rather than the so called ghetto prose that would make him a commercial success He finally succumbs to temptation after seeing the Oberlin educated author of We s Lives in da Ghetto during her appearance on a talk show firing back with a parody called My Pafology which he submits to his startled agent under the gangsta pseudonym of Stagg R Leigh Ellison uickly finds himself with a six figure advance from a major house a multimillion dollar offer for the movie rights and a monster bestseller on his hands Ellison becomes a judge for a major book award and My Pafology title changed to Fuck gets nominated forcing the author to come to terms with his perverse literary jokei once heard a writer complain how difficult it is to write satire these days when the satire and the satiree both show up on the letterman show mug at each other s jokes and then laugh together all the way to the bank that is there s a complicity in most so called satirical entertainment with the essential mode and delivery methods of what is being satirized ERASURE isn t like this its satire stings because it s generous and complicated enough to shame and indict all of us for the creation and maintenance of a market driven intellectual life a literary culture that rewards sensation and provocation over art and an unuestioned and reductive even internalized racist ideologyfor a in depth overview of some of everett s source material check out this review by bernard bell which while analyzing well what the book does also ends itself with a sly if i m reading it right criticism of the protaganist s and maybe the author s vantage of privledge Contrary to the popularity in the academies of anti essentialist arguments by postmodern critics the authority authenticity and agency of the identities of most African Americans emanate most distinctively and innovatively from the particularity of our historical struggle against slavery and its legacy of antiblack racism in the United Stateswhat ellison the character argues in ERASURE is that blackness is must be wide enough to include his own subjectivity however forces both within and without this novel refuse to cooperate assigning the black identity only to a particular romanticized and fetishized inner city gritty and ghetto experience everett screams foul at such a distortion ishmael reed agrees having written a few The Lady of Larkspur Lotion years before this article on the scapegoat idea of a black pathology a phrase which everett uses to name his street lit parody reed writes The only difference between white pathology and black pathology is that white pathology is underreportedbut all the above discussion aside for a moment let s acknowledge too that while freighted with heavy conseuence and while trying to make real points and to hit its targets hard ERASURE is a pleasure to read mostly for its patient uproarious but never overwrought nor sensational prose what a touch it is to be all in one book deadly serious furious and howlingly funny I feel generally out of place says the protagonist Thelonious Monk Ellison near the end of this astounding book Me too And perhaps that s why this book hits me so personally that I almost can t see straightFunny moving and as with the seven other Percival Everett books I ve read unexpected and unpredictable the paperback of Erasure is printed in a tiny font and I was glad because I didn t want it to end I often stopped reading in order to prolong the pleasureWithout ruiningour sweet discovery of this story suffice it to say that Monk is a multifaceted peg who doesn t fit into any known hole He is a writer whose books are too dense for most humans And not only does he wish he could be seen and appreciated for who he is but he needs money So he writes an astoundingly awful racist book a parody of popular ghetto fiction However in writing this novella included in full in the middle of this novel Everett has done something so subversive that it makes me scream and I m not sure it was intentional Yes the novella is stereotypical and funnily offensive but it also is driven by and mirrors the very frustration of the protagonist writer and I would guess Everett as well to be accepted for who he is a black man who does not fit into anybody else s box and to have his work appreciated on its own merits So even as the reader is laughing andor cringing at the exaggerated stereotypes chapter titles written Won Too Free Seben etc Five Wealth Secrets 96% of Us Dont Know you are compelled by the cartoon black ghetto man s craving and fury to matter a craving that is written into all of our DNA This universality woven into pure dreck makes reading it seductive and gives credence to what then happens to it publicly I identified so intensely with the end of the book I almost had a panic attack Like Monk I ve felt generally out of place I write books that few people read And at various times in my life people have suggested that I write books to appeal to the masses Once I tried and I collapsed I couldn t do it My entire body said No Monk actually succeeds in this charade and Well read the book This is the story of a black author artist and intellectual who is greatly respected in small circleset has not and does not seek fame for his talents On a lark he writes a ridiculously over the top racist pop novel of massively stereotyped ghetto and submits it anonymously To his great chagrin it becomes a best seller and he becomes wealthy overnight The story weaves his outh as a black man in America with his professional family in a most skilful and interesting way The struggles of a gay black brother an aloof father that shows him unabashed favoritism and a mother who is approaching dementia are contrasted against the protagonists own self recrimination and doubt The ending is dazzling the writing is superb and lively The story is uite frankly exceptionalThis author has remarkable intellect and skill I m certain it is an autobiographical fantasy It is clever in ways that are hard to imagine showing remarkable creativity et not confusing like other experimental novels It seems a true rendering of what it truly means to be an authentic black man in America not the cliue that is so prevalent in public discourse I have to give it 5 stars it is that good There are snippets of literature art experimental poetry woven in I didn t even understand much of this but I loved it think Vonnegut The novel within this novel is rendered completely like the one in Irving s The World According Garp Check it out ou won t be disappointed A strange blend of family drama out won t be disappointed A strange blend of family drama razor sharp satire Thelonious Ellison is an academic writer in the mould of Barthes or Derrida whose unreadable novels upset and alienate colleagues and readers Riled by the rise of cheap and racist ghetto lit he pens a satire against the genre which becomes unbearably popularDespite this mouthwatering premise however most of Erasure is about Ellison s relationship with his mother a passionate woman succumbing to Alzhemier s The story is a touching look at a damaged family divided by the notion of being black and clever The scenes between a oung Ellison and his father ring truer opening windows into a complex psycheThe satiredrama blend is a little uneven but this is an entertaining novel if ou are prepared to follow its snakes and snarks I took an advanced fiction class from Percival Everett and admired him immensely as a teacher and person so I finally got around to read Thus my PE obsession loses its vestigial tail and sprouts wings Initially I wanted to read through a few reviews to see how anyone really had the ballsgumptioncojonesintestinal fortitudeaudacityinsipidnessignoranceloveto write a review My favorite artist is Basuiat because although he is dead he lives on the massiveness of his art Anyone who has seen his art in the flesh and they do seem to be breathing layers upon layers of thoughts like skin whispering to be peeled away so that one might uncover their essence knows that it is as explosive and organic as an expletive after a stubbed toe Thus massive 1 Anyone who was fortunate enough to see him in person or those who have seen stills and recordings of the man knows how influential he was and continues to be in the art world and as a worldwide cultural icon Thus massive 2 The massiveness of his being is awe inspiringly intimidating unless ou truly believe that Training the Trainer you are as great asou would have others. 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 oung 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. .