BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Impossible Chess, Close Reading, and Inattention as Disability in Percival Everett’s Telephone

    Eve, Martin Paul (2023) Impossible Chess, Close Reading, and Inattention as Disability in Percival Everett’s Telephone. Orbit: A Journal of American Literature 11 (1), ISSN 2398-6786.

    orbit-9845-eve.pdf - Published Version of Record
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

    Download (924kB) | Preview


    Percival Everett’s Telephone (2021) is a novel published, by deliberate design, in three very different versions. Ostensibly, the author has claimed in interview, this choice was to test the boundaries of authorial authority and to delegate interpretative control to the reader. In this article, I argue that such a stance is disingenuous. Telephone is, instead, a novel that continually withholds information from the reader and that ultimately frustrates close reading techniques. In doing so, the text casts the reader into the mental viewpoint of the terminally ill child in the novel, Sarah, who suffers from the progressive neurological condition Batten disease. The outcome is that Telephone should be read as a novel that pathologizes readerly inattention but that, as a result, passes innovative comment on disability narratives in fiction more broadly.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Martin Eve
    Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2022 13:34
    Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 10:41


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item