In Everett’s new book, Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, that authority, the authority of the very narrative we are reading (to the extent we can unravel the narrative) is itself questioned, quite deliberately, as Everett takes storytelling and fiction as a mode of storytelling for targets of mockery. This quality in Everett’s work, which also characterizes such previous novels as Glyph and Erasure, is most frequently described as metafictional and postmodern, but I think the impulse behind it still best regarded as satirical rather than postmodern per se. While Everett does blatantly and persistently call attention to the artifice of fiction-making, the object seems less to simply complicate the reader’s response to the act of narration and to disruptthe maintenance of illusion than to expose both notions to travesty. Fiction as a literary form is itself not spared the hard edge of Everett’s satire. Among postwar American writers whose work consistently incorporates self-reflexive strategies, perhaps only Gilbert Sorrentino so relentlessly dismantles the existing support structures of fiction — the novel in particular — as does Everett, although Sorrentino seems more interested than Everett in supplying new such structures, even if they are only temporary, made to fit the specific work at hand.
In Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Everett does not seem engaged in an effort to replace the blasted remnants of the conventional novel with a fresh form of his own invention. It would be more accurate to say this novel settles for deforming form as a self-sufficient aesthetic principle. […]