cover image So Much Blue

So Much Blue

Percival Everett. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-55597-782-5

Art, friendship, family, and sex all jostle for priority of focus in the prolific Everett’s contemplative new novel. The plot doesn’t so much unfold or tighten but rather follows the idiosyncratic thoughts of its protagonist, a renowned painter named Kevin Pace. Several chapters open with philosophical statements—“I suppose every alcoholic desires to regard himself as simply a harmless drunk.” Taking his time, Kevin unspools a story from 30 years ago, another a decade old, and gauges their impact on the present. These plotlines are woven in chapters variously titled “1979,” “Paris,” and “House.” In “1979,” when he’s 24, Kevin and his close friend Richard take a potentially dangerous trip to El Salvador to find Richard’s missing brother, Tad. It doesn’t take long for them to stumble into a dangerous situation involving soldiers with M16s. The “Paris” plot charts Kevin’s romance with the alluring Victoire, with Richard playing a minor role. And in “House,” Kevin is working on a painting, perhaps a masterwork—“a painting has many surfaces,” he proclaims—but refuses to show it to his family, or anyone else for that matter. The novel’s version of the three ages of man adds yet another level to Everett’s intellectually provocative work. [em](June) [/em]