FRIDAY

In a publicity interview concerning his newly published novel, Erasure, author Percival Everett said, “I spend more time researching than writing.” Too bad for his readers. In the book, Everett’s parody of the publishing industry is fierce, but the author’s tedious language nearly ruins the joke. Everett’s protagonist is Thelonious (Monk) Ellison, a talented writer whose novels are deemed irrelevant by publishing executives hellbent on finding cookie-cutter black writers to fit a pre-established mold: After the rejection of his 17th novel, Ellison’s agent tells him, “The line is, you’re not black enough.” Ellison moves from disenchantment with the publishing industry to disgust when a hackneyed novel called We’s Lives in Da Ghetto becomes a best seller. In a flurry of inspired wit, Ellison writes a parody of the book—and a legion of fawning publishers miss the joke and proclaim the satirical novel an authentic new voice from the black community. Throughout Erasure, Everett’s snide story line roasts everyone from literary agents to English professors to talk-show hosts. Unfortunately, despite the clever framework, Everett’s zingers too often seem culled from the high school locker room. At one point, Ellison gets in an argument with a rival academic, who says, “Postmodern fiction came and went like the wind and you missed it. And that’s why you’re bitter, Ellison.” Everett’s protagonist responds, “Man, do you need to get laid.” Ouch. Everett will read with Elizabeth Strout and Daniel Wallace at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $15. (202) 544-7077. (Felix Gillette)