“ It’s a racial allegory grounded in history, shrouded in mystery, and dripping with blood. An incendiary device you don’t want to put down.”- NPR https://www.npr.org/2021/09/22/1039434714/percival-everett-the-trees-review
by Percival Everett
2021/ 305 pages
read by Bill Andrew Quinn 7h 43m
rating – 9 / literary-crime-satire
(both read and listened)
Another book from the Booker Prize Long List 2022 and this one is very strange. In Money, Mississippi, where most of the story takes place, a white man is found dead next to a black man. The black man is holding the testicles of the white man in his hand. The state police are called but by the time they get there the black corpse is gone. That’s right; it disappeared.
Then pretty quickly another white man is found dead with a black man next to him and holding the white man’s privates. Then this black corpse also disappears. The thing is by looking at the crime photos, this black corpse seems to be the same black corpse as was found at the first murder.
The Mississippi State Police take up investigating, but don’t get very far with the local rednecks and the sheriff isn’t at all happy to have these black State Police in town. It turns out the white shooting victims are actually serious racists from the families who lychee young Emmitt Till back in 1955. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is called.
This is when the detectives meet Mama Z, the 105-year old local collector of US lynching stories, histories, news articles. It turns out there are strange, similar murders occurring all over the country.
The book falls into the horror, who-done-it,” fantasy genre(s) but brimming with satire and even slap-stick comedy. I can’t say that I loved it in the conventional sense of loving a book, but it’s edgy, very funny and truly original as well as being wonderfully well written. It set my thinking back a notch as it’s even somewhat shocking in this day and age.