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I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel Paperback – May 26, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Percival Everett is a genius. He's a brilliant writer and so damn smart I envy him.” ―Terry McMillan
“Percival Everett has made a career out of flouting expectations . . . [forging] a nervy, caustic body of work that defies easy categorization . . . [The Water Cure] is one of the most elliptical, eccentric protest novels you're ever likely to read.” ―Los Angeles Times
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Top Customer Reviews
This book retains his "Percival Everett-ness" with all the whimsy, profundity, and outright silliness of his kind of storytelling. Often the protagonist is as bewildered by the nonsense swirling around him as the reader is, even while being quite absurd - and always cool in an offbeat way - in his own right. And, as one would expect from an Everett book, our hero is often an anti-hero to the world around him. That's all I will say about the story itself as the editorial review/synopsis gives a good description.
His work is timeless and this is no exception. You are pushed to laugh out loud, giggle, smile, and think. He has the ability, unmatched, in my opinion, to dissect the society we find ourselves in; praising - in his way - its positives, mocking its flaws, and finally giving the whole kit-and-kaboodle a firm finger (you know the one). This is a must read, especially if you are new to Everett's work. I hope he never gets tired of writing because I will never get tired of reading his work!
My one quibble is the one-dimensional Southern white characters. I do think there's still a lot that's worthy of skewering in the Southern white racial psyche, but some of the characters here are cardboard stereotypes trucked in from Tobacco Road. That seemed too easy.
Overall, though, this book is sort of an updating of Ellison's Invisible Man, with an even more absurdist twist. It's also very realistic, in that it exposes many of the absurdities that remain in our ever-raced and -classed society.
Fortunately for Not Sidney, his mother invested in Turner Broadcasting very early on and made a fortune. Ted Turner happens to hear about him and next thing we know Not Sidney is living in Turner's sprawling mansion outside of Atlanta. Not Sidney buys his way into college even though he isn't very interested in formal education. Not Sidney sets out to go back to LA, where the fun and games rev into high gear.
Everett's dialogue is first-rate and the exchanges between Not Sidney and Ted Turner had me laughing every single time. Not just smiles, but laugh out loud funny. And Not Sidney's trek through the South has to be one of the great send-ups of racists from the South.
My one small quibble, and I want provide any spoilers, is that the last 20 pages didn't match the quality of the rest of the book. Outside of that, this is pure genius and Everett is a writer not to be missed -- I can't wait to begin my next Everett novel.
As you would imagine simply from the book's title, there's a lot of humor that resembles the old "Who's on First" routine. ("I'm Not Sidney Poitier." "Of course you're not.") And to top it off, young Not Sidney has the ability to mesmerize some people and get them to succumb to his commands--although practicing this superhuman power gets him into some awkward situations. But, as readers have come to expect from Everett, there's a serious, if always ambiguous, undertone to the humor, particularly once Not Sidney decides to leave Ted and Jane and strike out on his own.
The first time Not Sidney drives out of Atlanta, he is immediately arrested for driving while black and is impressed into a chain gang.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A unique and hilarious yarn. I enjoyed reading this book so much that I purchased everything Everett wrote. It is great to read literature that makes you laugh and think too!Published 16 days ago by Truth-teller
What twists of "truth" and perception and their interplay. This book made me laugh out loud, enraged me, forced me to question whether I even had a right to feel what it made me... Read morePublished 1 month ago by frank turner
Great and compelling storytelling... I wasn't disappointed after Erasure.Published 5 months ago by Safari John
Clever title and premise...Everett has a way with words and phrases...does a fine job of painting an image... Read morePublished 14 months ago by A&P
OK, I agree Everett is a great writer. Now if he would just commit to taking the novel form seriously and WRITE A REGULAR STORY BEGINNING TO END. Read morePublished 14 months ago by opinioned