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The Trees

por Percival Everett

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6964432,787 (4.07)1 / 114
Fiction. Literature. Thriller. An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of Telephone Percival Everett's The Trees is a must-listen that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist white townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America's pulse.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porjwpromenade, twinkley, biblioteca privada, turnerd, dianelouise100, JoeB1934, ocher, JFBCore, CJMTTM
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 Book talk: Is this (name a book!) worth finishing?8 não lido / 8amysisson, Março 2023

» Ver também 114 menções

Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Blackbird singing

Read by Dwayne Glaption
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins

Wow! It’s really the only word needed to describe this excellent novel. But wait, there’s more.

Of course a synopsis won’t do. I have no desire to spoil this must-read for anyone. The genre? Well it’s dark and funny and tragic and mysterious all at once. It starts here.

In the neighborhood of Small Change in the town of Money, Mississippi a white family comprising of Charlene (Hot Mama Yellah), and Wheat, Granny C, Junior Junior and Lullabelle, gathers around an empty pool outside a grassless shotgun house. They are discussing using the pool to keep pigs in. Little do they know, but one of them is about to be murdered, his body mutilated, his scrotum stuffed into the hand of a dead black man.

So starts the story. I took notes for my review. A few will hopefully give y’all a flavor of this remarkable book..

“There’s be no First Amendment without the Second”
“If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns”
“When the trumpet sounds I’m outa here”
- Stickers on the deputy coroner’s rusted-out car.

The top coroner is called Reverend Fondel. A nasty fellow a KKK supporter who discovers he is black. Only one of many of Everett’s imagined characters, so exquisitely described that we can’t wait to meet the next one. Then there’s their names. Junior’s son Junior, Junior Junior, Mister Mister, Fondel, Hobsinger.MacDonald MacDonald, Pick L. Dill. Not since Dickens has a novel’s characters so matched their owners’.

“You kill em We chill ‘em”
“You stab ‘em we slab ‘em”
“You slay ‘em We slab ‘em”
Two detectives pay a visit to the Acme Cadaver Company. The receptionist has a tattoo on her neck, “Break here in case of emergency”. One of the detectives doesn’t get it. When they enter the warehouse Marvin Gaye is being played. The cadavers are kept head-to-toe on a conveyor belt. One cadaver is just male head, the rest of its pieces being scattered somewhere in Pennsylvania. Some employees are playing catch with an eye ball. Others play soccer with a head.

But it’s not all fun, and there’s some serious stuff going on. Seriously.

This is a book to read at leisure and to be taken very, very seriously. ( )
1 vote kjuliff | Apr 6, 2024 |
I get what he was going for here but it was too messy to work for me. ( )
  gonzocc | Mar 31, 2024 |
With its strong note of the Southern grotesque, I naturally thought of Flannery O’Connor while reading this extraordinary novel. Like O’Connor, Everett exaggerates his characters and plot to make the stupid violent racism of whites more shocking. Everett’s racists here are profoundly stupid people. This is not to say however that Everett and O’Connor are similar in their fundamental aims. O’Connor was famously a Catholic novelist. She was concerned with redemption, and her stories attempted to show to a complacent society why we needed it. Everett is not a Catholic or any kind of religious novelist.* “The Trees” is not about redemption, but revenge. It is a purely secular reckoning with a sinful society, lacking any transcendence.

This similarity/difference is nicely illustrated I think in O’Connor’s quote that, “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural.” Everett does not have any Christian concerns but in “The Trees” he is also addressing the problem of forcing a slumbering sinful society (sorry) to look at its horrific pattern of racist violence. One of his characters muses:

“Everybody talks about genocides around the world, but when the killing is slow and spread over a hundred years, no one notices. Where there are no mass graves, no one notices. American outrage is always for show. It has a shelf life. If that Griffin book had been Lynched Like Me, America might have looked up from dinner or baseball or whatever they do now. Twitter?”


Or take this exchange between Everett’s avenging angel, Mama Z, and a well-meaning academic whose uselessness is corrected by forcing him to take a more visceral look at America’s racist violence:
“What do you know about lynching?” Mama Z asked.
“Some. I wrote a book about racial violence.”
“I know,” the old woman said. “I have a copy in the house. It’s very …”—she searched for the word—“scholastic.”
“I think you’re saying that like it’s a bad thing.”
Mama Z shrugged.
Damon looked at Gertrude, as if for clarification, only to see her shrug as well. “Scholastic,” he repeated.
“Don’t take it the wrong way,” Gertrude said.
“Your book is very interesting,” Mama Z said, “because you were able to construct three hundred and seven pages on such a topic without an ounce of outrage.”
Damon was visibly bothered by this. “One hopes that dispassionate, scientific work will generate proper outrage.”
“Nicely said, nicely said,” Mama Z said. “Wouldn’t you say that was nicely said, great-granddaughter?”


Everett’s story here, and his use of the Southern grotesque tradition, does an incredible job of illustrating the repugnant distortion of America’s past and present. It is highly engaging, humorous mixed with horror, and the writing is addictive. He leads his characters, and the reader, to first imagine this is a ghost story of one vengeful spirit, then to a more natural explanation involving a small active group of assassins, only to finally veer way off into a zombie revenge fantasy that I for one never saw coming!

It is not all Southern grotesque of course, Everett writes out of multiple traditions here. One of his most effective methods borrows from the Homeric Epic - the making of lists. Lists of names. Lists of places. Lots of lists of places. This is an entire and complete chapter:

Florence, South Carolina. Macon, Georgia. Hope Mills, North Carolina. Selma, Alabama. Shelbyville, Tennessee. Blue Ash, Ohio. Bedford, Indiana. Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Irmo, South Carolina. Orangeburg, South Carolina. Los Angeles, California. Jackson, Mississippi. Benton, Arkansas. Lexington, Nebraska. New York, New York. Rolla, Missouri. Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Elsmere, Delaware. Tarrytown, New York. Grafton, North Dakota. Oxford, Pennsylvania. Anne Arundel, Maryland. Otero, Colorado. Coos Bay, Oregon. Chester, South Carolina. Petersburg, Virginia. Laurel, Delaware. Madison, Maryland. Beckley, West Virginia. Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. Fort Mill, South Carolina. Niceville, Florida. Slidell, Louisiana. Money, Mississippi. DeSoto, Mississippi. Quitman, Mississippi. Elmore, Alabama. Jefferson, Alabama. Montgomery, Alabama. Henry, Alabama. Colbert, Alabama. Russell, Alabama. Coffee, Alabama. Clarke, Alabama. Laurens, South Carolina. Greenwood, South Carolina. Oconee, South Carolina. Union, South Carolina. Aiken, South Carolina. York, South Carolina. Abbeville, South Carolina. Hampton, South Carolina. Franklin, Mississippi. Lowndes, Mississippi. Leflore, Mississippi. Simpson, Mississippi. Jefferson, Mississippi. Washington, Mississippi. George, Mississippi. Monroe, Mississippi. Humphreys, Mississippi. Bolivar, Mississippi. Sunflower, Mississippi. Hinds, Mississippi. Newton, Mississippi. Copiah, Mississippi. Alcorn, Mississippi. Jefferson Davis, Mississippi. Panola, Mississippi. Clay, Mississippi. Lamar, Mississippi. Yazoo, Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi. Mississippi.


Personally I found that the most chillingly effective chapter in the whole novel. Over and over and over, lynching after lynching after lynching. It keeps happening but don’t dare for a second think it’s natural, or just the way things are.

This is an incredible, extraordinary, accomplished, brilliant, urgent novel. The writing quality is very high. My only hesitation with it is that purely secular revenge stories as good as they may be are always missing something for me that writers like O’Connor have. Here there is no transcendence, no redemption, no grace. All there is is the world’s brutal stage and actors upon it and the best thing is revenge. There are many stories like that, of course, and they can be very entertaining. And if a belief in something greater than the material world is alien to the reader’s constitution, they would not share this small hesitation. Either way, definitely a 5 star read.

——
* Quote from Everett in an interview: “Religion is about fear. Nobody wants to be a Christian because they want to help people. They want to be a Christian so they don't go to hell.” I’m admittedly disappointed he has this simplistic outlook but it does fit perfectly with “The Trees”. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Emmett Till lives (and dies) many times in this seriocomic novel in which racism suffuses the roots of every tree in America. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
Good book. Edge of the seat thriller. Page-turner. ( )
  37143Birnbaum | Feb 21, 2024 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 44 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
The setting is a small town called Money, Mississippi, “named in that persistent Southern tradition of irony”. We meet a dysfunctional white family unit with its morose matriarch Granny C, her son Wheat Bryant, and her nephew, Junior Junior. This time it’s the white folks’ turn to be rendered in grotesque caricature, and the actions of this feckless clan are played as broad knockabout, almost like a reverse minstrel show.
adicionada por bergs47 | editarThe Guardian, Jake Arnott (Aug 31, 2022)
 

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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Percival Everettautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Mues, JonaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Stingl, NikolausTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike at him as hard as you can and as often as you can, and keep moving on.     --U. S. Grant
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For Steve, Katie, Marisa, Caroline, Anitra, and Fiona
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Money, Mississippi, looks exactly like it sounds.
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Y'all is damn near dead, but y'all can hear just fine.
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Winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction (2022), for when LT 'Awards and honors' are unlocked.
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Fiction. Literature. Thriller. An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of Telephone Percival Everett's The Trees is a must-listen that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist white townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. Something truly strange is afoot. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence. The Trees is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance from an author with his finger on America's pulse.

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