Infinite Spaces in the Fiction of Percival Everett
266 Pages / 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.90 in
- Hardcover /
- 9780807172643 /
- Published: July 2020
- eBook /
- 9780807173848 /
- Published: July 2020
In Approximate Gestures, Anthony Stewart argues that the writing of Percival Everett, the acclaimed author of Erasure and more than twenty other works of fiction, compels readers to retrain their thinking habits and to value uncertainty. Stewart maintains that Everett’s fiction challenges its interpreters to question their assumptions, consider the spaces in between categories, and embrace the potential of a larger, more uncertain world in an effort to confront bigotry and similarly limiting patterns of thought.
Drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Stewart proposes that their notion of the schizorevolutionary figure captures the in-between status of many of Everett’s characters as they refuse the constraints of the binary, categorical structures that govern so much of human life. Approximate Gestures engages specifically with the vexed question of discussing race in Everett’s fiction. Stewart frames the stakes of analyzing such subject matter in the writing of an African American novelist whose work rigorously questions critical approaches to race. Requiring readers to engage with black males who are hydrologists, ranchers, college professors, romance novelists, and in one case, a toddler, means entering a world released from habitual frames of reference. Through an examination of a broad selection of novels, Stewart demonstrates the extent to which Everett’s characters inhabit “infinite spaces in between conventional categories” and understand themselves as subjects attempting to navigate social and psychological worlds.
Approximate Gestures: Infinite Spaces in the Fiction of Percival Everett encourages readers and critics to think more deeply about how they position themselves in and engage with the world around them. As one of the first books of literary criticism devoted to Everett’s fiction, Stewart’s pathbreaking study models a method for reading the formidable body of work being produced by a major contemporary writer.
A highly perceptive analysis of Everett’s oeuvre that grasps the essence of the one big book that Everett claims he has been writing, Approximate Gestures offers a powerful illustration of the ability of reading and of literary criticism to point out improved paths in life and thought, by considering uncertainty as an active political and philosophical engagement. ~Anne-Laure Tissut, co-author of "Percival Everett: Transatlantic Readings"
Percival Everett remains unfamiliar to far too many readers, but Anthony Stewart's lucid and unconventional examination of Everett's large and varied body of work offers some hope for changing that unfortunate situation. Approximate Gestures engages with Everett's complex philosophical and aesthetic themes while also offering an affective meditation on the cognitive and emotional effects of his work. ~Derek C. Maus, author of "Jesting in Earnest: Percival Everett and Menippean Satire"
No scholar writing today possesses a keener understanding of how Everett’s fiction works than Anthony Stewart. Approximate Gestures offers readers useful tools for extracting meaning from Everett’s challenging fiction, especially when dealing with the fraught topic of “race.” ~Joe Weixlmann, founding president of the Percival Everett International Society
In Approximate Gestures, leading Everett scholar Anthony Stewart aims at the core motions behind this author’s trickster-like humor, satire, and philosophical parody. Percival Everett’s work is a war machine aimed point-blank at conventions and categories, unsettling them to free the infinite space of possibility lying between dichotomies, beyond exclusionary logic and the seduction of habit. Arraying an alliance of philosophy, ethical positioning, and insightful textual analysis, Stewart delves into key works, like Erasure, Glyph, American Desert or So Much Blue, perceptively engaging issues of language, literary form, religion, art and race. This new study demonstrates the importance of reading Everett: challenging literature may also be a weapon against bigotry. ~Michel Feith, professor of American Literature, Université de Nantes, France