SUDER by Percival L. Everett


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Craig Suder is the black third-baseman for the Seattle Mariners, but he's in a slump. On the field, off the field (he's newly impotent with wife Thelma)--everywhere he fails. And then the team claims that Suder has a bad leg (it doesn't really hurt at all), putting him on the disabled list. So Suder takes off on an adventure that bears a distinct resemblance to nervous collapse. He spends some time on the fishing boat of an ex-major-leaguer who also happens to be a drug dealer; after one sale, Suder takes the money and runs, leaving the dealer in search of him for the rest of the novel. Then, on a bet (and through the device of an old, old joke), Suder acquires an elephant, names it Renoir, and brings it to a Cascade Mountains cabin--having also picked up along the way a nine-year-old girl runaway. And, at book's end, after all the weirdnesses of his last few weeks come together up at the cabin, Suder decides that he wants to be a bird--so he casts himself off a cliff, with his body shaven and wings (made from plastic garbage bags) attached to his arms. What gives Suder a rationale for this behavior? Well, his father is a small-town doctor, but his mother is certifiably off-the-wall; and there's a lovely boyhood interlude when jazz-piano genius Bud Powell comes to spend a retreating while with the family. Yet, while these flash-backed mezzotints are nice, the Brautigan-ish pucker of Suder's present antics is weak and amateurishly constructed. A modestly talented but seriously strained first novel.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1983
ISBN: 0807123870
Publisher: Viking