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Robert Coover : a study of the short fiction

Author: Thomas E Kennedy
Publisher: New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1992.
Series: Twayne's studies in short fiction, no. 38.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In company with John Barth and Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover is among the best-known and acclaimed experimental writers to emerge from the 1960s. While Truman Capote and Norman Mailer embraced realism, borrowing techniques from journalism and fiction writing to create In Cold Blood and Armies of the Night, Coover and his ilk took the opposite path, invoking the surreal and the fantastic to convey the complex
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Kennedy, Thomas E., 1944-
Robert Coover.
New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, c1992
(OCoLC)607888754
Named Person: Robert Coover; Robert Coover; Robert Coover; Robert Coover
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Thomas E Kennedy
ISBN: 0805783474 9780805783476
OCLC Number: 25371606
Description: xiv, 153 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Contents: Pt. 1. The Short Fiction. Pricksongs & Descants. In Bed One Night & Other Brief Encounters. A Night at the Movies or, You Must Remember This --
Pt. 2. The Writer. Interview, 1979 / Larry McCaffery. Interview, 1986 / David Applefield. Interview, 1989 / Thomas E. Kennedy --
Pt. 3. The Critics. William H. Gass. Joyce Carol Oates. Susan Kissel. Neil Schmitz. Jon Zonderman. Charla Gabert. Caryn James. John O'Brien.
Series Title: Twayne's studies in short fiction, no. 38.
Responsibility: Thomas E. Kennedy.

Abstract:

In company with John Barth and Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover is among the best-known and acclaimed experimental writers to emerge from the 1960s. While Truman Capote and Norman Mailer embraced realism, borrowing techniques from journalism and fiction writing to create In Cold Blood and Armies of the Night, Coover and his ilk took the opposite path, invoking the surreal and the fantastic to convey the complex nature of human experience. Wedding the vulgar and the sublime, favoring process over content, Barth's Lost in the Funhouse, Barthelme's Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, and Coover's Pricksongs & Descants for a time derailed American fiction from its traditional course of linearity and social realism.

Coover's role in this revolt has been viewed largely from the vantage point of his full-scale works. Primarily a novelist, he has received relatively little attention for his short fiction. Some critics may argue that his greatest work is represented in his novels, especially The Public Burning; in Robert Coover: A Study of the Short Fiction, Thomas E. Kennedy suggests that Coover's short fiction represents his most wonderous work. The stories in Pricksongs and Descants, Coover's first collection, are reminiscent of Grimm's fairy tales, Kennedy writes, combining the real and surreal to create "a series of increasingly mythical, symbolic, often terrifying occurrences.".

Finding fantasy, myth, love story, soap opera, slapstick comedy, parable, daydream, and nightmare, Kennedy offers a comprehensive analysis of the stories in Pricksongs & Descants and the two collections that followed: In Bed One Night & Other Brief Encounters and A Night at the Movies. Interviews with Coover--one conducted by Kennedy specifically for this volume--feature Coover's ideas on a wide range of topics, including technique, playwriting and screenwriting, neoconservatism, and the writing process. William Gass's historic review of Pricksongs and Descants is reprinted here, along with other critical commentary on A Night at the Movies and In Bed One Night.

What is perhaps most remarkable about Coover's short fiction is its continued vitality: the reader discovering a story today will he as shocked, baffled, delighted, and infuriated as the reader of the 1960s. If realism alone 30 years ago could not portray the full range of human experience, with all its raw dreams and desires, is no more able to do so today. Coover's work continues to provide a complex alternative to conventional realism in American fiction. This first book-length study of his short fiction will enhance readers' appreciation of Coover's singular contribution to experimental writing.

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