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I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett
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I Am Not Sidney Poitier

by Percival Everett

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English (15)  French (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I just loved this book. So strange, so funny. If only I had realized while reading it that most of the major story lines were culled from Poitier movies... I'm eager to read more of Everett's many novels. FIVE HUGE STARS. ( )
  alienhard | Mar 26, 2014 |
The first novel ever to raise the burning question: "What, exactly, is a smithereen?"

A young man bestowed with an absurd name and a significant shareholding in Turner Broadcasting moves in with Ted Turner, encounters bigoted Southern cops, inbred rednecks, snooty upper-class light-skinned blacks, an oddball community of nuns, and an irritating professor who spouts geysers of meaningless academic jargon and shares the same name as the author himself.

I adored Everett's Erasure and consider him one of the most brilliant, funny and sadly overlooked American satirists, whose literary style and sensibility should earn him a place as the contemporary, African-American Mark Twain. While his prose in I Am Not Sidney Poitier is pitch-perfect, the characters are wonderful (his amiable, slightly nutty Ted Turner is a hoot!), and the lampooning of different classes of people is often laugh-out-loud funny, I felt that the book was a pastiche of independent scenes, rather than one with a unified, raging agenda as in many of his other works.

You won't regret a moment reading it. But if you're new to Everett, start with Erasure. ( )
  Feign | Mar 26, 2014 |
Rarely do I come across a book that I truly do not want to end. This book is one of them (the last I can recall prior to this was Lonesome Dove). IaNSP is simply a ton of fun to read.

I've not yet read any of Everett's other works but will certainly be doing so in the coming weeks. ( )
  dtn620 | Sep 22, 2013 |
I'm going to need to save this for another time. I reserve judgement until then.
  usefuljack | May 17, 2013 |
I'm going to need to save this for another time. I reserve judgement until then.
  usefuljack | May 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Everett’s new novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, is a bookend, of sorts, to Erasure. A coming-of-age story – narrated by a character named Not Sidney Poitier, who nevertheless grows up to look and sound just like the film star – it, too, is a book about entrapment and negation. Not Sidney is the product of a symbolically long pregnancy. His father may or may not have been Sidney Poitier. His mother is a bit touched, but savvy enough to have invested, early on, in Ted Turner’s media concern. When Not Sidney is seven, Turner himself pays the family a visit. Soon afterwards, the mother dies – ‘an illness came over her,’ the son is told – and the mogul takes Not Sidney away to live with him in Atlanta. ‘To Turner’s credit even he was not comfortable with the scenario of the rich do-gooding white man taking in the poor little black child,’ Not Sidney explains. ‘Television was polluted with that model, and it didn’t take a genius to understand that something was wrong with it. My situation was somewhat different as I was in fact extremely wealthy.’
added by kidzdoc | editLondon Review of Books, Alex Abramovich (pay site) (Nov 19, 2009)
 
In his latest marvel of a novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Everett has again created a protagonist who lives a kind of double life: on the one hand, he is “Not Sidney Poitier,” a kid with a weird name and buckets of money trying, with some measure of success, not to avoid taking the lead role in his own life; on the other hand, he is indeed Sidney Poitier, the glittering (if dated) embodiment of what, according to the invidious grotesqueries of cultural assumption and inertia, blackness can and should be.

Although it is frequently, gut-grabbingly hilarious, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, like Erasure, is more serious meditation on the exigencies of the self than comic send-up of an America gone wildly off the rails.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Believer, Laird Hunt (Sep 1, 2009)
 
Is any American writer as undervalued as Everett? Does anyone in America write funnier books? Such questions come to mind with Everett's 17th novel and latest tour de force of purposeful nonsense, "I Am Not Sidney Poitier."

As always, Everett relies upon capriciousness to ward off reductive interpretations. And as always, his capricious style accords with a serious purpose - in this case a provocative exploration of the unstable nature of African American identity. The name "Not Sidney" suggests an identity with origins in a negative truth - he is viewed not for who he is, but against who he is not. As indeed was the original: Sidney Poitier, the movie star himself - shimmering on the silver screen, his Bahamian accent erased - was from the start a reflection of African American pride and compromise, and of the wider culture's hopes and fears.

Constantly shifting modes, from comic realism to tall tale, from recounted dreams to refashioned movie plots, Everett's hall of mirrors narrative presents African American identity itself as rooted in contradiction.
 
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I am the ill-starred fruit of a hysterical pregnancy, and surprisingly, odd though I might be, I am not hysterical myself.
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The novel follows the life of a young man named Not Sidney Poitier, after he was orphaned at age eleven and inherited a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.

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