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Looking at the Big Picture

Looking at the Big Picture

Percival Everett’s Western Fiction

(p.186) 7 Looking at the Big Picture
Hoo-Doo Cowboys and Bronze Buckaroos
Michael K. Johnson
University Press of Mississippi

Few contemporary fiction writers are as explicitly concerned with African American experience in the American West as novelist Percival Everett. His later stories in particular place the American West at the thematic center of the narratives. The West in Everett’s fiction, whether it’s the Old West of the genre western, or the new West of contemporary realistic regional writing, is a complex and even ambivalent place, sometimes suffering from the same social, political, and environmental problems as the rest of the country, at other times offering a haven from those problems. Everett’s short stories and novels are often “post-soul” narratives of erasure that deflect and defer race-related questions, sometimes not revealing information about a character’s racial identity. His frequent inclusion of a disabled character (or a wounded or disabled animal) signals a racial subtext as Everett reinscribes race through the metaphor of disability as a sign of difference.

Keywords:   Percival Everett, Erasure, Disability, Contemporary Fiction, Post-Soul

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