It seems that many of my readers land on this blog via this page, and then see just one of more than 120 entries/book reviews. So I’ve added this preamble to the original post. Welcome to “So Much to Read” and please stay a while! You can sign up for email updates, follow us on Twitter, or just bookmark the site. I post about what I read. We welcome, encourage, appreciate your comments. And lest the title of this post confuse you, yes, this site is operated and maintained by Brendon Cull. Thanks for reading.
This book was recommended to me by someone in my book club. I feel like she knows things. As in knows things. I appreciate friends like this because they open my eyes to new ways of seeing the world.
This book was extraordinarily clever. You know that it takes a special type of author to write a book about a wealthy orphan who looks like and whose name is “Not Sidney Poitier.” The joke of the book is that the kid’s first name is actually “Not Sidney.” On its face, the book is just a good story. Not Sidney gets himself into uncomfortable and unfortunate situations. He’s often rescued by his sometimes caretaker Ted Turner (yes, that Ted Turner.) What I found out later is that most of the unusual situations he encounters are actually plays on plots from Sidney Poitier’s movies (would have been helpful to understand while reading the book). By the end of the book, it’s clear there’s a whole lot of subtext in the book.
To me, the key is identity. The book is a story about someone trying to understand who he is and how he fits into the world around him. A confusing name that evokes images of a famous actor is his obvious identity. But that easily observed description ends up hiding who he is or who he might really be. It happens all the time—an outward trait can end up defining one’s character and one’s life. Not Sidney Poitier ends up accepting an award and is described similarly to the real Poitier. Does that mean he never ends up being his own person? Is he just living the life that would be expected of someone whose name is Not Sidney Poitier and who looks like the real Poitier and who gets into similar situations as Poitier’s character? (That last sentence barely even makes sense to me. But it’s very similar to some of the nonsensical language in Everett’s book.)
Overall, I liked this book because it wasn’t like something I read often. I don’t do much fiction, so this was a welcome break from bios and histories. If you read this book for no other reason, read it to laugh at Everett’s hilarious caricature of Ted Turner.