Percival Everett is a unique writer. He differentiates himself from the other African-American writers by focusing his work on commercialization of literary culture. The book challenges the shibboleths of American culture and literature. It calls for an alternative to the commercialization of literary literature. The novel is funny. It engages readers through its playful jokes and references, making them feel like reading it many times.
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For instance, the author pokes playful fun at the publishing scene of America when he talks about the mutual back-scratching of the award judges. He also mentions the despicable promotions of junk novels.
However, the subject of the novel is sensitive. The writer focuses on how race and political issues affect the black people in America. He looks at the stereotyped depictions of the black cultures and how the whites perceive them. For instance, blacks are perceived as drug dealers, sportsmen, or musicians, but not good authors.
From his novel, it can be judged that Everett is a genius novelist, but a poor, or an average storyteller. He differentiates his writing skills from the other authors, and hence stands on a creative plane. I like the way he tackles complicated issues that people go through in their day-to-day lives. For instance, the author provides readers with a damning critique about racial attitudes, or discriminations in the literary culture and the publishing industry.
He explains how the work of the black authors is measured in his country. Instead of looking at the capabilities of these marginalized authors, judges look at how well the authors present their racial ideas. The author lacks the skills to connect storytelling and writing. A good author should possess skills and knowledge in both fields.
Everett lacks a complex meta-narrative to help him tie his narrative strands of the novel together. In some parts of the novel, the author uses a vague language that may not please all readers, especially the people from other cultures. For instance, he uses such words as ‘fuck talk, nigger, and bullshit’ among others.
I like the way the author captures readers’ attention with the way he links the title of the novel with the contents in it. The novel provides a series of erasures, which contribute a lot to the novel’s title, ‘Erasure.’ For instance, he talks about several forms of erasures such as his sister working in an abortion clinic, and his brother turning out as a gay and getting thrown out by his family.
The author also talks about how his to alter ego erases him, and how the mind of Monk’s mother, who has Alzheimer is slowly being erased. This way, readers have a clear view of all the fault-lines of the current American society. Everett offers a great humanist response to these fault-lines. For instance, he quotes, “Take me as I am, he says. Reward ability. Do not judge by appearances. Do not take a binary, yes-no, black-white approach to life”.
The author discloses information to the literary culture and the publishing industry that even the marginalized groups can do great in art. Therefore, they should not be discriminated. Most of them have talents and skills but are looked down upon in the publishing industry.
The book leaves readers with suspense making them think about the way ‘Monk’ will turn. However, one can tell that he will turn to the good and moral way because despite featuring himself as a flawed character, he is indeed a good man.
Everett, Percival L. Erasure: A Novel. Hanover: University Press of New England, 2001.