Read John's Wife by Robert Coover Free Online
Book Title: John's Wife|
The author of the book: Robert Coover
Edition: Dzanc Books
Date of issue: May 27th 2014
Loaded: 1376 times
Reader ratings: 5.4
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 24.94 MB
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And now, Coover Completionism!
Were I a talented writer with a developed bit of wit, I’d write a parody of one of those saccharine reviews that simply gushes about John’s Wife (know that her name is apostrophed) and you’d all rush out to tbr this wonder. But I’m not. So I’ll settle for exclaiming that John’s Wife ought to count more highly in the esteem of Coover readers ; it ought to count up there with The Public Burning, even if the fireworks are a tad more restrained. And Coover readers ought to count as the average reader, but alas. However, as I declaim how great is John’s Wife I’m fully aware that I’m tempted that direction a bit by the degree to which it is a more normalish=novel ; more normalish than the middleclass nightmare of Gerald’s Party (also apostrophed ; and both employing to fine effect the parentheticalization of subclause’d thoughts) and more realist than Pinocchio and nothing at all like the pyrotechnics of Lucky Pierre. What it is is a slightly more salty Coover than the Brunist-realist phase ; one sees here the overlap. Not that Coover was attempting that kind of middle=class Updikism (as Theroux’s An Adultery maybe kind of did) because you can’t put a Gargantua-ette (that would be a female Gargantua) into a bourgeois novel. But speaking of the bourgeois novel, it’s not really that, but more like the American Small Town Novel of which variety I’ve been reading several recently -- combine that setting (of the sort I grew up in several times ; I think there were at least three) with a large cast of characters and a floating PoV and you get a set of significant, unremarked upon novels which successfully avoid the First Person Terror (ie, PoV) and result in what is frequently derided as “PoMo” -- I mean of course Coover’s own Brunist novels and Evan Dara’s novels and Jeff Bursey’s novels (I know, he’s Canadian, but I said “American” and my America is large) ;; probably extends back to things like Sinclair Lewis ; and there’s at least an Indian version in Kanthapura.
At any rate, John’s Wife, well, it’s about us. Which might account for why it won’t be a novel for every reader ; we’re not pretty.
I’ve thought about chunking up Coover’s oeuvre. It’s not really a matter of chronology since the time of the writing too often does not coincide with its publication. For instance, The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Director’s Cut was written over a period of forty years, published finally in 2002. Publication of The Public Burning (1977) was delayed several years due to legal sweaty=palms. A Political Fable (1980), was first published as “The Cat in the Hat for President” in New American Review in 1968. So instead, sort of a genre=chunking of his many books published, lo, these past 50 years.
I. The Brunist/Realist Books
Here, naturally, belong his two Brunist tales, The Origin of the Brunists (1966) and The Brunist Day of Wrath (2014). But I’d also place his popular The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. here since the depiction of Henry’s fall into his fictional world is more or less realistically portrayed. Naturally, as with all Fiction, these three are richly meta=phictional.
II. The Short Stuff :: Novellas and Short Stories
Quite, true, these could/should be divided in half, but in my book, they kind of do similar things, ie, produce perfect pieces (unless they fail, etc). The novellas almost seem like formal perfection and have been functioning quite well for introducing readers to Coover’s genius. Roughly in order of my esteem of them--correction :: I just can’t do that ::
Spanking the Maid
Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears*
A Political Fable*
The stories are strewn around. There’s the classics -- A Night at the Movies or, You Must Remember This (film and the movies saturate Coover’s writing) and Pricksongs and Descants. The fable stuff -- A Child Again. And In Bed One Night & Other Brief Encounters. The recent stuff, still uncollected, but listed (naturally against the rules) in the gr=db and available (often) free to read -- don’t miss “Going for a Beer”!!
* (to be read in conjunction with The Public Burning)
III. The Novels
Pretty much the Coovers no one reads. But should ::
Gerald’s Party -- in which the ‘I’ is apostrophized* (199 ratings · 22 reviews )
Pinocchio in Venice (161 ratings · 26 reviews )
The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Director’s Cut -- really pretty much an unendurable masterpiece (52 ratings · 9 reviews )
John’s Wife -- in which ‘she’ is apostrophized* (84 ratings · 7 reviews )
All four are of the genre tour de force or something ; but readers with weak stomachs will have already avoided them and/or won’t have the patience to endure them. None of them are of that comfort=making kind of novel. All will seem perhaps on the long side for those who have loved the small doses of similar stuff in the shorter works. But I think it’s a pity more people do not read them ; they’re a great antidote to the extremely conservative nature our literary scene has taken on in recent years decades.
*to complete the apostrophe trilogy, we’ll draft Noir in which ‘you’ is apostrophized
IV. The Public Burning
Stands on its own, naturally. It consists of one part realist (see I. above) and one part insanity, a blend of The Novels & The Short Stuff.
And then some miscellaneous stuff only Completionists might be interested in -- A Theological Position (a collection of plays) and The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) (a kind of tribute, I think), for instance. And several extremely small print=runs of stuff collectors=only (see Friend Brian’s copy of Spanking the Maid). But I think that’s most of it, mostly.
But so, Coover is simply on a grand scale. Joyce. Faulkner. Gaddis. That kind of level. Pure/sheer American genius (I remind you of my inability to properly compose the saccharine that would be antidote to these bold claims). That he is not thoroughly known (although frequently you might find articles about his students and influencees dropping his name), that his name is not habitually lined up on that line of, for instance, Fitzgerald-O’Connor-Hemingway-Updike-Etc-Faulkner, says a whole lot more about our literary culture than it does about the value of Coover’s works. And, I’d really have to insist, if you were to ask, yes, Coover is more long=haul improve-with-age than might be the fading light of his fellow=master, John Barth. These Coover books (Donald Duck for President?!?!) will hold up very nicely these next several coming decades.
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Read information about the authorBorn Robert Lowell Coover in Charles City, Iowa, Coover moved with his family early in his life to Herrin, Illinois, where his father was the managing editor for the Herrin Daily Journal. Emulating his father, Coover edited and wrote for various school newspapers under the nom-de-plume “Scoop.” He was also his high-school class president, a school band member, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Cincinnati Reds. In 1949 Coover enrolled in Southern Illinois University, and, after transferring to Indiana University in 1951, earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 with a major in Slavonic languages. While in college, he continued editing student papers, as well as working part-time for his father's newspaper. The day he graduated, Coover received his draft notice and went on to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve during the Korean War, attaining the rank of lieutenant. Upon his discharge in 1957, Coover devoted himself to fiction. During the summer of that year, he spent a month sequestered in a cabin near the Canadian border, where he studied the work of Samuel Beckett and committed himself to writing serious avant-garde fiction. In 1958, he travelled to Spain, where he reunited with Maria del Pilar Sans-Mallafré, whom he had earlier met while serving a military tour in Europe. The couple married in 1959 and spent the summer touring southern Europe by motorcycle, an experience he described in “One Summer in Spain: Five Poems,” his first published work. Between 1958 and 1961, Coover studied at the University of Chicago, eventually receiving his master's degree in 1965. The Coovers lived in Spain for most of the early 1960s, a time during which Coover began regularly publishing stories in literary magazines, including the Evergreen Review.
In 1966, after the couple returned to the United States, Coover took a teaching position at Bard College in New York. He also published his first novel, The Origin of the Brunists (1966), which won the William Faulkner Award for best first novel. In 1969, Coover won a Rockefeller Foundation grant and published Pricksongs and Descants, his first collection of short fiction. That year, he also wrote, produced, and directed a movie, On a Confrontation in Iowa City (1969). Coover has maintained an interest in film throughout his career. During the early 1970s, Coover published only short stories and drama, including A Theological Position (1972), a collection of one-act plays, all of which were eventually produced for the stage. He also won Guggenheim fellowships in 1971 and 1974, and served as fiction editor for the Iowa Review from 1974 to 1977. By the mid-1970s, Coover had finished his next novel, The Public Burning; it took him more than two years to find a publisher for the work, which was ultimately cited as a National Book Award nominee. Coover received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1985 and a Rea Award for A Night at the Movies (1987), a collection of short stories. While Coover concentrated primarily on short fiction—with the exception of Gerald's Party—during the 1980s, he produced a series of new novels during the 1990s.
Coover has taught at a number of universities, including the University of Iowa, Columbia University, Princeton University, and Brandeis University, throughout his career. Since 1981 he has been a writer-in-residence and faculty member of the creative writing program at Brown University.
Among the vanguard of American postmodern writers to come of age during the late 1960s, Coover is respected as a vital experimentalist whose challenging work continues to offer insight into the nature of literary creation, narrative forms, and cultural myths. Convinced early in his career that traditional fictional modes were exhausted, Coover has pioneered a variety of inventive narrative techniques, notably complex metafictional structures and ludic pastiches of various genres to satirize contemporary American society and the role of the author. In this wa
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