I Am Not Sidney Poitier (Everett)

I remember adding this book to my stack based on a review and because it was published by Graywolf, a local press. It sat there for a while and I continued to be amused by the idea of a character named Not Sidney Poitier. Finally, it rose to the top, and I read it. The quotation from The Washington Post calls Everett an “experimental” and “modern” novelist. Those two adjectives should have given me pause. On the back, Publishers Weekly says that the book is sparked by “satiric brilliance.” The first target of his satire seems to be Ted Turner, an odd choice since the book was published in 2009. (He gets in a fair share of his digs at Jane Fonda as well.) Stereotypical southern cops seem to be another easy mark. Everett has his sights set on Morehouse College, fraternities and Bill Cosby as well. Another target? A Professor Percival Everett, who teaches a Philosophy of Nonsense course at Morehouse. The plot, such as it is, tracks this man, Not Sidney Poitier, as he tries to make something of his life and his inheritance. There is something interesting going on at the end involving what may be his own murder – though he is asked to identify what may be his own body (remember? “experimental,” “modern”). But that this is just about a fraction of his fortune that he intended to give to some nuns removes much of the punch here. Though, in the end, I just may not have gotten this modern, experimental novel. Ah well.

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