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Assumption: A Novel Paperback – October 25, 2011

27 customer reviews

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Assumption: A Novel + Percival Everett by Virgil Russell: A Novel + I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel
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Editorial Reviews


Half zen koan, half Jim Thompson, and 100% Percival Everett, the twined mysteries of Assumption provide all the lively satisfactions of 'genre' fiction, while describing yet another arc in the trajectory of Everett's brilliant and protean career. In these spare, funny, and violent studies of the nature of identity and truth, Everett shows again that he is a learned student of the art of fiction, in addition to being one of its most able practitioners. (Christopher Sorrentino)

Everett ranges widely in his sometimes realistic, sometimes hallucinogenic fiction, drawing on a deep understanding of literary tradition. . . to examine social issues in limpid, muscular prose. . . . I'd encourage anyone with a taste in good, thought-provoking writing to investigate. (Barbara Hoffert, Prepub Alert, Library Journal)

Everett, who has put his uniquely wacky spin on genres from Greek myths to westerns, does the same for crime fiction in his effective follow-up to I Am Not Sidney Poitier. . . . [A] shocking tale. (Publishers Weekly)

The most sidesplitting dialogue this side of Catch-22. . . . Not only is the novel smart and without a trace of pretentiousness, it shows Everett as a novelist at the height of his narrative and satirical powers. (Publishers Weekly on I Am Not Sidney Poitier)

The writing is so sharp it will make you wince and laugh at the same time. . . . Everett's storytelling can't be oversold; this is superbly written, crisp and quick-paced, punctuated with pools of simply gorgeous prose. Above all, it's damn funny. (Bookslut on I Am Not Sidney Poitier)

About the Author

Percival Everett is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and the author of eighteen novels, including I Am Not Sidney Poitier, The Water Cure, Wounded, Erasure, and Glyph.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Paperback Edition edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975984
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975982
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on November 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although Percival Everett's cynical and satirical books often explore race (especially America's obsession with it), class, and the rural-urban divide, they are never alike. His previous novels have scattered across genres: Western, urban fiction, social realism, farce, and more. He embraces the formulae of whatever genre he is writing--and then completely upends them. His latest book is a postmodern twist on crime thrillers and their premises and tropes.

Deputy Sheriff Ogden Walker comes across as one likable and discerning officer of the law--although his relationships with the mostly white residents of a New Mexico desert community often seem a bit frayed. He is devoted to his mother; he is haunted by the idea that his father would be disappointed in him; he is appropriately lighthearted and friendly with his colleagues; he is polite and concerned and seems relatively unambitious; and he doesn't really like guns much--to the point where he often isn't carrying one. He is "a fool to love the desert, a fool to have left school, a fool to have joined the army, a fool to have no answers, and a fool to expect answers to questions he was foolish enough to ask." He becomes increasingly obsessed and involved with a series of three criminal cases with strikingly similar aspects; by the third case certain facts and contradictions appear to implicate him in a murder, and he hightails it to Denver to clear his name. Linked to the increasing pile of dead bodies are white supremacists, meth addicts, and people who suddenly appear on the scene and assume false identities.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By books and wine on December 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading "Assumption" and came back to read the reviews of others because the conclusion left me a bit perplexed. This is the only book I've read by the author; I don't have any previous bias towards him. I enjoyed the first two of the three parts of the book. All three parts follow deputy Ogden Walker through non-routine crime investigations and are enjoyable. Although they revolve around crime investigations, I wouldn't call them typical crime stories. Here, they serve as more of a background or a means to the author's intent. Before I started the third part, I went back and looked at the titles of the previous two to see if I had missed a clue; I wondered if something more than the lead character would tie them all together. The title of the third is "Shift" and that is quite telling. I think I'm beginning to better understand the author's intent - to catch the readers in their assumptions. However, the ending seemed too much of a stretch. I won't give more away on the ending. Other reviewers commented it took a while to reflect on the book to come to a final judgment. I'll update my review if I feel differently after it's had time to 'simmer'.

After 2 years, I'm updating my review from 3 to 4 stars. The book stayed with me in a positive light. It also prompted me to read another Percival Everett book, "God's Country" which I enjoyed more than "Assumption: A Novel".
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Read-A-Lot on November 22, 2011
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If you read reviews before reading the book, you will be duly armed and may miss this wonderful ride. Anytime a work of fiction makes you think about what you've read long after you have finished, it has to be deemed a success. The book is three separate stories, but all linked by the same characters and settings. It is being billed as a novel, so I will judge it as such. This distinction, will make all the difference in the world.

Ogden Walker is a small time deputy, trying to solve murders, in three separate incidents. He is not really a detective, so obviously he is in way over his head, but the nature of the incidents make you somehow root for his success. The writing is classic Everett, meaning exceptional. You will certainly be turned on your head at the novel's ending. It's a quick read, and after finishing, you will either laugh out loud, or be mad that you've been had! Great book!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fred Zappa on December 4, 2011
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My guess is that people who have already read some other fiction by Percival Everett are more likely to enjoy this book than those who haven't. I have, and so, I did. Everett often toys with readers' expectations--or in this case, with their assumptions. For me, he's at his best when he draws jolting attention to HOW we tend to read.

As I read this novel I became increasingly disappointed, because it seemed like rather ordinary, drab detective stuff (and the detective story isn't even a genre that I generally like). The central character, a black or biracial deputy sheriff in a very white and Latin American setting, spends a lot of time bumbling around in search of clues. The endings of the first two parts seemed rushed and almost lazy (and an abundance of typos provoked further disappointment--can't Graywolf Press spend a bit more on copy editing?).

But then, by the end, what I'd been assuming about the protagonist was thrown back in my face, and that familiar Percival Everett feeling came back in full force. I've since been thinking about the book a lot, going back in my mind over the rest of it, which no longer feels at all lazy. I've been thinking about assumptions that I make in real life too, where I also "read" people all too quickly. If anyone's been lazy, it's me, the "reader." So I'm finally grateful to Percival Everett, for reminding me to check my assumptions.
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