I am Not Sidney Poitier

Alex Abramovich writes:

Everett’s new novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, is a coming-of-age story. Narrated by a character named Not Sidney Poitier, who nevertheless grows up to look and sound just like the film star, it is a book about entrapment and negation. Not Sidney is the product of a symbolically long pregnancy. His father may or may not have been Sidney Poitier. His mother is a bit touched, but savvy enough to have invested, early on, in Ted Turner’s media concern. When Not Sidney is seven, Turner himself pays the family a visit. Soon afterwards, the mother dies – ‘an illness came over her,’ the son is told – and the mogul takes Not Sidney away to live with him in Atlanta. ‘To Turner’s credit even he was not comfortable with the scenario of the rich do-gooding white man taking in the poor little black child,’ Not Sidney explains. ‘Television was polluted with that model, and it didn’t take a genius to understand that something was wrong with it. My situation was somewhat different as I was in fact extremely wealthy.’

(LRB 19 November 2009)

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