This has been the most baffling (yet funny) novel I have read in a very long time. I had to come and check in about it now that I’m just over a third-way through. I’m recalling the novels of Ishmael Reed and poems by Sterling Brown but can’t yet say exactly why. It has been decades since I’ve read Reed but do recall the wild unpredictable twists and turns in his novels and the humor as well. And it is Brown’s Slim Greer in Hell that shares the tone of this novel.
It is going down through a series of letters and memos between a publishing house, academia, and political arena. Amongst this correspondence, are personal quirky revelations along with “business matters” that so far include 6 characters, presumably. The strangest, maybe, since they are all quite unsettled, is Wilkes, the personal assistant representing Thurmond, (so far Thurmond remains addressed in 3rd party). Not only is he, unbeknownst to himself, an oddity and peculiar man, but he is the most condescending toward all others that make up this novel; Jim and Percival (yes the author has placed himself as novelist of the novel, both inside and outside of the actual book who represent academia; Juniper and Martin, underling and upperling at the publishing house; Wilkes and Thurmond representing the political arm of this story.
Of course I had to go digging around the net about Percival Everett, because I started to wonder if my memory had failed me and there was actually no such writer and suspecting the name was a pseudonym. This interview shed a little light, not much, but a little for my imagination to take off.
At this point I’m feeling Everett is making a statement on what he sees as an incestuous nature between academia, politics, and publishing. And somehow as a writer and professor, might just be saying and all yall can kiss my ass. I’ll report back when I’m 2/3rds of the way through. Peace.