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Telephone: A Novel by Percival Everett
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Telephone: A Novel (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Percival Everett (Author)

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22123123,171 (3.85)38
Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area-the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon-he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches. After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter's slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he's ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission. A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.… (more)
Member:Jonathan5
Title:Telephone: A Novel
Authors:Percival Everett (Author)
Info:Graywolf Press (2020), 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Telephone by Percival Everett (2020)

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Big letdown after reading Trees. ( )
  37143Birnbaum | Jan 7, 2024 |
litertainment ( )
  postsign | Dec 28, 2023 |
I know Percival Everett is a genius, so I'm assuming much of what he is writing goes way, way over my head. Spinning plates that are invisible to me. This is Everett book #2 for me and I do know the uniqueness of this particular book is that there are actually three versions of 'Telephone' in existence, and they vary plotwise. That is neat, but I don't think I will be reading all three versions. (Too many books... Hell, too many Percival Everett books to get around to!) Creating three narratives in three books sure is spinning plates on another level! I'm surprised no one else has written three parallel books (as far as I know), but leave it to Everett to give it a try. Regardless of my dull brain, I do feel Everett should be more widely read, so I keep trucking on. I can always find some gems in an Everett book. I do love that no matter how much Everett seems to want to hold the reader at arm's length, with his curmudgeonly characters, all of it is still very endearing, no matter how much the characters (or Everett) try to shove the reader away. (Remember, I'm basing this on two of his books. This one, plus 'Virgil Russell'.) For what it's worth, I read the B/2/Yellow version.

*Book #138/322 I have read of the shortlisted Morning News Tournament of Books ( )
  booklove2 | May 21, 2023 |
Loved the writing (at 5 Stars), could not bear the haunting decline of a child with an incurable disease -

WHY is all our entitled rich people's money not going to fund cures???????? ( )
  m.belljackson | Apr 9, 2023 |
Zach Wells is nearly as rocky as the fossils he investigates as a paleobiologist. Only his 12 year old daughter, Sarah, softens his heart even whilst she is destroying him at chess. When Sarah misses an obvious move in a chess game, Zach is surprised. Later that surprise turns to concern, then worry, and then his worst fears get realized. Sarah is diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of Batten disease which will lead to dementia, loss of function, and death. Zach is not able to cope. And neither is his wife, Meg. Their future looks bleak.

Percival Everett takes his time revealing the multiple sources of Zach’s emotional ossification. In the end, it is surprising perhaps that he ever had a solid relationship with his wife. But Sarah is someone who always gives him a reason to go on. Until that reason begins to evaporate. Soon Zach is clutching at almost any reason and his need drives him to increasingly irrational actions. However, along with despair and dread, Percival Everett acknowledges the place of hope in our lives.

This is a beautifully written novel with exquisite pacing and anxiety-producing scenes. Its ending is nowhere near what I had anticipated. And yet it felt absolutely right.

Definitely recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Mar 8, 2023 |
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Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area-the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon-he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches. After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter's slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he's ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission. A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.

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