‘So Much Blue’ by Percival Everett – More Than the Words


‘So Much Blue’ by Percival Everett    (2017)  – 256 pages

Perhaps the best measure as to how much I actually like a novel is how much I look forward to returning to it when I am not reading it.  If I view returning as a necessary chore, that probably means I don’t like the novel very much.  However if I get a smile on my face just contemplating returning to a book, that probably means I like it a lot.  By this measure, ‘So Much Blue’ is a total winner.

The narrator in ‘So Much Blue’ is a fifty-six year old artist who has been working on a giant painting for several years.  He keeps the painting in a outbuilding next to his house, but he won’t let his family or friends see the painting.

There are three main plot lines in ‘So Much Blue’, and the narration switches around between the three. The first is called ‘House’ which takes place in current time and is about the artist’s family in New England.  He is faced with a quandary that it is not too uncommon for a father to face.   In order to extract a secret out of his teenage daughter, the daughter makes him promise ahead of time that he won’t tell the secret to her mother.  However when he hears the secret, he realizes it is something that her mother really ought to know.  What does he do?

Another plot line is called ‘1979’  and takes place back then.  He and his college friend are off to El Salvador to rescue his friend’s brother who is mixed up with drugs and some “bad hombres”.  This story winds up being the most hilarious of the plot lines when they meet this shady American mercenary who they call the Bummer who bosses them around.

The third plot line is called ‘Paris’ and takes place seven years before the present and is about an affair the forty-something artist has with a 22 year old Parisian young woman named Victoire.  Despite the questionable circumstances of the age difference, this affair is handled tastefully.

This is an odd mix of plots, but each is handled in an ingratiating and good-natured manner.  The entire novel does have a unifying theme of “secrets”, but this theme is handled quite indirectly, and the author does not hit you over the head with it.

Although each of the three disparate plot lines of ‘So Much Blue’ is captivating, warm, and humorous, the sum of the entire novel is still much greater than the individual parts.  The novel as a whole is so well-written and subtle, that all of the reviewers including me seem to fall all over ourselves trying to describe it.


Grade :   A   


3 responses to this post.

  1. I like your idea of the smile test as a way to gauge how much you like the book



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