Telephone, by Percival Everett
Zach Wells is a perpetually dissatisfied geologist-slash-paleobiologist. Expert in a very narrow area—the geological history of a cave forty-four meters above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon—he is a laconic man who plays chess with his daughter, trades puns with his wife while she does yoga, and dodges committee work at the college where he teaches.
After a field trip to the desert yields nothing more than a colleague with a tenure problem and a student with an unwelcome crush on him, Wells returns home to find his world crumbling. His daughter has lost her edge at chess, has developed mysterious eye problems, and her memory has lost its grasp. Powerless in the face of his daughter’s slow deterioration, he finds a mysterious note asking for help tucked into the pocket of a jacket he’s ordered off eBay. Desperate for someone to save, he sets off to New Mexico in secret on a quixotic rescue mission.
A deeply affecting story about the lengths to which loss and grief will drive us, Telephone is a Percival Everett novel we should have seen coming all along, one that will shake you to the core as it asks questions about the power of narrative to save.
Praise for Telephone
“Sometimes, almost indifferently, one of [Percival Everett’s] novels turns out to be truly exceptional and memorable, and confuses me in the best possible way. . . . Everett’s most recent novel, Telephone, is one of these standouts. . . . Everett pulls off a gently tremendous technical feat with the accumulated little slips out of the present situation. . . . For this reader, the reveries and exits accumulated such that the final and longest slide into the wilderness made the turn to the closing pages sad, affecting and marvelous.”—Rivka Galchen, The New York Times Book Review
“Like watching a skilled juggler execute a six-ball fountain, the experience of reading Telephone is astonishing.”—Los Angeles Times
“A spellbinding, heartbreaking tale.”—Publishers Weekly