I Am Not Sidney Poitier
by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press, 2009
270 pages / $16.00 Buy from Graywolf Press
Adjectives frequently used to describe Percival Everett include “intelligent” and “hilarious,” and are also apt descriptors for his seventeenth (!) novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier. It is difficult to imagine a funnier book dealing with issues of race and identity, or a more sophisticated comic romp. The humor (and confusion) begins with the title, which refers to the novel’s main character, literally named Not Sidney Poitier. The “ill-starred fruit of a hysterical pregnancy” that lasts two years, Not Sidney is an orphan raised by Ted Turner who comes to resemble the actor Sidney Poitier. The unexpected death of Not Sidney’s mother leaves him with incredible wealth in the form of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corp.
August 4th, 2011 / 12:04 pm
I’m reading Dean Young’s new nonfiction book, The Art of Recklessness, part of The Art Of Series from Graywolf Press. Only 30 pages in, and I feel like I’ve swan dived into the swirling, dangerous waters of Young’s unbelievably complex collector’s brain. I love it. Here’s a review.
On page 12, Young quotes Wallace Stevens:
It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur.
This is the exact idea I want to relay to my students when school starts next week. Not being shackled to rules, allowing poems to fall out of you un-self-consciously, is what makes great art. Learning craft so that you don’t have to think about it should probably happen simultaneously, but without imagination, recklessness, fire you’re fucked.
This is a different kind of book, one that might be the most important kind. I’ll follow up when I’ve actually finished reading it.
August 12th, 2010 / 8:26 am