Thursday, August 06, 2009
Erasure by Percival Everett
Erasure by Percival Everett is one of those brilliant surprises, although I don’t know why I was surprised. A scathing and sardonic exploration of publishing, writing, and fame, Everett draws on some of the more embarrassing moments in recent literary history, commenting upon racial relationships and identity with an integrity and fierce honesty. Even the novel within this novel is a slap in the face of what many revere and is ironically praised for everything that Everett does throughout. I devoured this book and cannot possibly praise its layers clearly enough. The protagonist is a writer and sprinkled throughout the novel are imagined dialogues between various types of artists which serve as yet another layer of commentary. There were moments of such humor that I had to put the book down to just let myself enjoy the moment of chuckling before reading further. (The fantasy exchange on page 193 especially memorable.) I think it helps that I have a slight familiarity with literature and why certain authors are revered but may be without merit. I ached through most of the reading to discuss this with a former professor of mine, a man who died many years ago but whose intelligence and kindness continue to affect me even now. He would have loved this novel. I am torn. A part of me wants to immediately run to Everett’s other writings and another part of me wonders if anything else he’s written could possibly live up to the brilliance of this novel? I think I’ll let this one sit with me for a while, enjoy the time I spent voraciously reading it, ponder its meaning, and, when the afterglow has fully worn off, look at some of his other writing. Ahhh . . . but the temptation to jump immediately into the next is definitely here and now.