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Understanding Robert Coover

Brian K. Evenson

An insightful look at one of America's most important postmodern metafictional writers

In Understanding Robert Coover, Brian Evenson takes on the work of Robert Coover, a major figure of postmodern metafiction. In a careful analysis of Coover's short stories and novels, Evenson demonstrates how Coover writes in several different modes that cross over into one another. He explores Coover's concern with notions of community and the ways communities hold together through a series of shared stories and myths—myths that often, once they lose their effectiveness, come to justify violence.

In this comprehensive study, Evenson discusses Coover's novels from his award-winning first book, The Origin of the Brunists, to his controversial The Public Burning—which has as its narrator the young vice president Richard Nixon. He studies the writer's reworkings of fairy tales in Pricksongs and Descants, Pinocchio in Venice, and Briar Rose, as well as the revisionary western Ghost Town. Evenson also looks at Coover's latest novel, The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Raw Footage.

Evenson explicates Coover's rewriting of myths and explores his willingness to break the frame of his fiction so as to include both fantastic and realistic elements. Evenson also show that, for Coover, storymaking is essential to what makes us human, and for that reason his ideas remain at the heart of what makes literature dynamic and intriguing. Understanding Robert Coover addresses these issues and explicates Coover's often difficult and formally innovative fiction.

Brian K. Evenson is the author of five books of fiction, including Altmann's Tongue and Contagion. He is a senior editor for Conjunctions magazine and the director of creative writing at the University of Denver. Evenson lives in Denver.



book jacket for Understanding Robert Coover


5 x 7
192 pages
ISBN 978-1-57003-482-4
cloth, $39.95s

Understanding Contemporary American Literature

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