GOD'S COUNTRY by Percival Everett


Email this review


 A politically incorrect rancher hires a black man named Bubba to track down the desperadoes who burned out his homestead and carried off his wife in this hilarious, biting sendup of the formula western. Everett (The One That Got Away, 1992, etc.) effectively lampoons the mythology of the Old West. When cowardly Curt ``Dirt'' Marder espies a band of ``Injun impersonators'' pillaging his home, he has ``half a mind to ride down that hill and say somethin', but it was just half a mind after all.'' Bubba, the best tracker in the territory, agrees to help Marder in exchange for half his homestead. Marder makes the deal, though he's pretty sure it's illegal ``for a nigger to own land.'' Of course, he loses all his property in a poker game, but he doesn't tell Bubba. They set out on the trail in the company of little Jake, a tow-headed boy whose ma and pa had been killed by the same bad guys. As the pointed silliness unfolds, Everett spikes the clichÇs of the Wild West with zest: A band of Indians gets the giggles when Marder greets them with a stern-faced, ``How!''; Army Sgt. Rip Phardt leads Marder to Col. George Armstrong Custer, who's later discovered in drag; and characters such as the grizzled Epiphany Jones and a Jewish cardsharp named Greenfield parade past. ``Damn if this frontier weren't just lousy with comedians'' writes the author. But Everett shows the dark side, too, with the rape and abduction of Jake; the brutal lynching of an innocent black teenager; the wholesale massacre of an Indian village by Custer and his soldiers on ``a killin' drunk''; and Marder's resolve to do his ``American duty'' about Bubba, ``a nigger what's gone wild.'' The abruptly downbeat, surrealistic ending doesn't work, but Everett's aim is generally true, and as a spoof, this tale hits the mark.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-571-19832-5
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994


FictionSO MUCH BLUE by Percival Everett
by Percival Everett
FictionHALF AN INCH OF WATER by Percival Everett
by Percival Everett
by Percival Everett