So Much Blue
April 9, 2018 8:53 AM - by Percival Everett - Subscribe

Kevin Pace is a successful painter, working on an enormous secret painting in his barn. There are three strains on his psyche that are affecting his marriage: an incident that occurred in El Salvador in 1979, before he got married; an affair that he had in France in 1999, with a woman much younger than his wife; and his daughter’s choice to confide something personal to him rather than to his wife.
posted by DirtyOldTown (2 comments total)
I read the entire thing, enjoyed it mostly, and came out with high regard for Everett as a writer. But I have to say that the third of the book focused on the affair vacillated between wince-inducing and kind of blah. I just really didn't need to read another story of a middle-aged artists man having an affair with a younger woman. The parts set in El Salvador were great and the parts in present day were pretty good. But that France/affair storyline... eh.

The narrator could be a bit of a pompous boor sometimes, and I could never quite decide whether Everett was in on that and inviting me to roll my eyes at him, or if bits like this were intended to be taken at face value:
A painting has many surfaces. To say that a painting is like a story is a pedestrian utterance, not altogether untrue, but inspired, though that hardly stops people from making such invidious and unwarranted comparisons. The painting that was my life was static, hardly a story at all, moving, but with no moving parts, changing but without alteration.
I should mention that the affair section is very self-aware, with Everett's narrator understanding that it's a cliche. And while the women in his life mostly serve as ciphers and signifiers, it's also fair to read the book as a damaged man's slow realization that this is the case.

The El Salvador sections were pretty terrific though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:02 AM on April 9, 2018

I feel like I'm recommending a dish heavy on cilantro... some people will just not be able to take it because of one ingredient and others will be wary to varying degrees no matter how well done it is. You can probably self-sort to figure out if this will work for you or not.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:16 AM on April 9, 2018

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