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  • Glyph
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
9
Glyph
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on April 6, 2017
Awesome! Brilliant as banana
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on March 6, 2002
Everett is fast becoming one of my favorite authors, though I get the feeling that between this one and his "Erasure" I've read all of his generally accessible stuff.
The story is told by a baby that is born a genius and is almost immediately set upon by forces trying to capture him. With incredible wit and tons of intellectual property, so to speak. The baby has a wicked sense of humor.
A bit heady, and not for the faint of intellect, but a great pay-off.
2 people found this helpful
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on August 16, 2012
Good book. Originally bought this for a class. I haven't read it since but I like Percival Everett's other works as well.
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on November 12, 2000
There is nothing better than great satire, especially a great satire of the literary criticism of the 1960s and 1970s - the kind of satire that has you laughing out loud at conversations between Bruneau and Thales (Bruneau: Would you like some water? Thales: Very funny.), God and Barthes, Wittgenstein and Russell, and many others.
Glyph, according to its cover, is a novel, but the book is much more than that. There are tidbits of anatomically themed poetry, literary theory, and seemingly random dialogues wrapped around the central text, which are the memoirs of Ralph, age four, reminiscing about his infancy. Ralph is no ordinary child; he is gifted, although no one realizes it, since he will not talk. Then Ralph one day writes a note to his mother. He has a gift for language, which he displays through reading and writing, not speaking. Incidentally, the first book he read was not written by A. A. Milne - it was by Wittgenstein.
Ralph has an interesting childhood - his father is a "postructuralist pretender" and his mother is an artist. With the best intentions, they take Ralph to see a psychologist, the evil Dr. Steimmel, and there his adventures begin. He is kidnapped, then kidnapped from the kidnappers. Along the way, Ralph tells the reader what he really thinks of "that Derrida guy" and a whole slew of other has-beens in academic circles, always with Barthes appearing in snippets of conversation, to say, among other things, "I am French, you know."
One might assume that the plot plays second fiddle to Ralph's commentaries. On the contrary, the plot is engrossing. I laughed at the satire and cried for Ralph. It was quite an emotional roller coaster, and I reveled in every minute of it. Glyph takes literature to new horizons. I highly recommend it, even if the reader has no experience with literary criticism. Sifting through the jargon for the plot is worth the trouble.
13 people found this helpful
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on March 23, 2010
A baby genius: These three words describe the main character and all 208 pages of Percival Everett's novel, published by St. Paul's Graywolf Press. This may be the first book of all time that describes life from a baby's point of view, and Everett deserves kudos for that.

A "glyph," according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is a symbol--such as a stylized figure or arrow on a public sign--that imparts information nonverbally. A non-speaking baby is certainly a glyph, but what exactly it symbolizes is for the reader to determine.

The main character is a complex and extremely intelligent baby named Ralph. He never cries like a normal baby, and his parents wonder if he has a learning disability, but they soon discover the reality is the opposite. His mom--whom he refers to as `Mo`--becomes his main supplier of books.

Ralph's innocent crib-bound life does not last long before his talents are discovered by outsiders. Before he can walk or has ever been potty trained, he understands complex equations, writes stories and poems, and even has a photographic memory. These groundbreaking talents lead Ralph into trouble.

After being kidnapped by his psychiatrist, Ralph is re-kidnapped several more times and ends up spying for a top-secret government agency, being rescued from a prison, and almost perishing at the hands of a crazy priest.

After being kidnapped by his psychiatrist, Ralph is re-kidnapped several more times and ends up spying for a top-secret government agency, being rescued from a prison, and almost perishing at the hands of a crazy priest. "The fight was a messy and unsightly affair that spilled out from the chapel into the courtyard. Bloodied noses and lips curled in anger shown on every face...Father Chacon was cranked with rage, though emotion did not make him a better fighter."

The story of Ralph is genius, but there are some features of the book that detract. For some reason--maybe irony?--there are an obscene number of footnotes. There's one on the bottom of almost every page. Everyone enjoys a good footnote, but hundreds of footnotes overcrowd a book this small.

There is definitely some fun psychological banter in the book, but I think Everett could have backed off on that too. He is a teacher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and it is obvious he has extensive education in psychology--leaving the reader to wonder if he hopes to see his novel land on course reading lists.

That said, Glyph is irresistible. It's hard to put down.
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on September 24, 2001
I picked this book up because of the pretty cover. I read the dust-jacket blurb, was intrigued by the premise (a baby who won't talk but can read and write! Neat-o!) and started reading. I had no fore-warning about it's "wit, satire, intelligence." After 20 pages I had to put it down-- it was that good, that I had to reflect on how good it was. I was amazed. Yes, I suppose, all that stuff everyone says about post-structuralist posturing and the hemophilia of the literary brotherhood, its all true-- but I haven't enjoyed well-crafted sentences like these since Berger and Leyner.
Impossibly, a "structuralist" dialogue is accomplished between Everett's obvious genius with what words can do and with what words are for. A new "parole" and "langue"? Ralph would easily make fun of me for that one.
Just read it. You don't need to know nothing about nothing. It's not erudite-- it's fun.
10 people found this helpful
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on January 18, 2000
Ralph is no ordinary infant. Inside his one-year-old body is a fully matured, literate mind hell-bent to excoriate academia like a post-modern Voltaire. Glyphically eschewing speech, Ralph wields his pen as if it were a rapier tipped with deadly acerbic wit. One by one, the inflated pretensions of the unrepentant deconstructionists are skewered and burst. This erudite satire by Percival Everett requires some inside knowledge of the intellectual gymnastics performed at Western universities during the past few decades, which may limit its audience. But for those who venture forward, their efforts to discern and dissect ultimately will be rewarded. The thing I will remember most about the book, however, is the moment when the author interjects (almost as an aside) the most startling expose of racial stereotyping I have ever read. I can still feel the shudder of recognition that even I, who profess total inclusion, may harbor the seeds of racism deep within my psyche.
12 people found this helpful
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on December 26, 2002
I received two presents for my birthday a few weeks ago and this was the one I truly wanted. I read the book during Xmas Eve and Xmas while lounging around. This book is another classic by a writer who is fast becoming my favorite living author! The wit, the sarcasm, the vocabulary, the idea itself makes this book one of my favorites. It's not an "easy" read at all. I found myself reaching for the dictionary on a few occasions and I wasn't upset at all. Aren't you supposed to learn something from what you read??? Anyway, if you're fed up with those typical novels full of sex, violence, and 3rd grade language, then this book will surely make you smile! Mr Everett, keep up the good work!
Vincent Lopez
5 people found this helpful
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on January 18, 2000
Glyph was a disappointing book. For one thing, it was not as represented. The "satirical" premise, narration by an infant prodigy, might have been sustainable in a short story, but extended to book length, it grew tiresome. It became an excuse for an ostentatious display of erudition. We former schild prodigies found it a sort of intellectual slur.
2 people found this helpful
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