Telephone: Book summary and reviews of Telephone by Percival Everett

Telephone

A Novel

by Percival Everett

Telephone by Percival Everett X
Telephone by Percival Everett
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About this book

Book Summary

An astonishing new novel of loss and grief from "one of our culture's preeminent novelists" (Los Angeles Times)

Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area―the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon―he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches.

After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, she has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter's slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he's ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission.

A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sometimes, almost indifferently, one of [Percival Everett's] novels turns out to be truly exceptional and memorable, and confuses me in the best possible way... . Everett's most recent novel, Telephone, is one of these standouts... . Everett pulls off a gently tremendous technical feat with the accumulated little slips out of the present situation... . For this reader, the reveries and exits accumulated such that the final and longest slide into the wilderness made the turn to the closing pages sad, affecting and marvelous." - Rivka Galchen, The New York Times Book Review

"God bless Percival Everett, whose dozens of idiosyncratic books demonstrate a majestic indifference to literary trends, the market or his critics." - The Wall Street Journal

"Like watching a skilled juggler execute a six-ball fountain, the experience of reading Telephone is astonishing." - Los Angeles Times

"A spellbinding, heartbreaking tale." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a novel that doesn't really try to make you believe in it, or in much of anything, including cause and effect." - Kirkus

This information about Telephone was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Patricia Duncker

Tension and Emotion
I am a big fan of Percival Everett. His books possess the qualities every novel should have : tension and emotion. Telephone is a powerful heartbreaking grief narrative where the loss of a child is portrayed as an absolute loss. But the book is also constructed with two other threads: a sharply satirical campus novel and a contemporary page-turning thriller of incarceration and escape. As always the writer's deft intelligence and acid sharp wit are a glory to read. Chapeau, maître!

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Author Information

Percival Everett Author Biography

Photo: Michael Avedon

Percival Everett is the author of more than thirty books, most recently The Trees, Telephone, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Dr. No.

Other books by Percival Everett at BookBrowse
  • Dr. No jacket
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