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After more than 45 years, Robert Coover will publish as sequel to his debut novel, The Origin of the Brunists. Dzanc Books will publish The Brunist Day of Wrath in September 2013.
Coover won the The William Faulkner Foundation First Novel Award in 1966 for his first novel. In addition, Dzanc will publish digital editions of ten Coover books and release a new Coover short story collection in 2014. Agent Georges Borchardt negotiated the deal with executive director Dan Wickett.
Here’s more from the release: “The Dzanc rEprint Series will be publishing ten of Coover’s backlist titles to eBook form beginning in August 2012 and running on up through August 2013. Titles include the aforementioned award-winning The Origin of the Brunists; Pricksongs & Descants; The Public Burning; Spanking the Maid; Gerald’s Party; A Night at the Movies, or You Must Remember This; Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears; Pinocchio in Venice; John’s Wife; and Ghost Town.”
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Baseball is back! And in honor of this week’s opening of the 2012 major league baseball season, we’re taking a look at Overlook’s baseball bookshelf.Arguably one of the greatest books ever written about the sport is Robert Coover’s classic 1968 novel The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. Reissued last year by Overlook, this timeless novel received a glowing tribute in
Christopher Guerin takes a look at Robert Coover's new novel Noir in Pop Matters: "The author of 23 works of fiction, Robert Coover is perhaps most famous, or infamous, for his hilarious satire on Richard Nixon and the Rosenberg Trials, The Public Burning, in which Nixon is, shall we say, abused by the mythical Uncle Sam.
In his 1968 novel The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., Coover proved himself a champion of the then-emerging postmodernist movement with a tale of a man who’s invented a form of baseball in which thrown dice determine every action. What appears to be a study of obsession and genius morphs into an ending so random and inscrutable that when I asked an English professor specializing in contemporary fiction what it all meant, he replied, “Damned if I know!”
Since then, Coover has applied his po-mo tactics to politics (casting the Cat in the Hat as a presidential candidate, and Nixon as Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears), sex and cinema (the story, “You Must Remember This”, describes what happens between Rick and Ilsa when the camera’s off), and, more recently, the fractured fairy tale, with wonderful re-imaginings of the Pied Piper, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and Pinocchio stories, among others. His parodies of genre fiction include Ghost Town, a western, and now the hard-boiled detective novel in Noir: A Novel.
Among other things, Noir is a hard-boiled detective novel about film noir. The entire novel is told in the second person, putting “you” at the center of the story.
The cinematic quality of this, with its layers of film metaphor, is no mere po-mo trope applied for its own sake. Film noir is about storytelling and so is this novel. “You” are one Philip Noir, private dick, and the novel wastes no time injecting “you” into the plot: “Following the usual preamble: You were in your office late. The phone call came in. You pulled on your old trench coat with the torn pockets, holstered your heater under your armpit, and headed for the docklands. The scene of the crime.”
What follows is a story that pours every conceivable detective story plot element into a multi-layered time frame. (
Along the way you’ll hear the Widow’s back story, which includes incest with three generations of men in her family, learn how two Japanese Yakuza once communicated across town by tit-for-tat tattooing a beautiful moll, and how to use a mummified hand to catch a murderous pawnbroker. “You” will be led to safety more than once by a bag lady and find yourself stark naked in a coroner’s drawer wearing only a toe tag and a new tattoo on your fanny. This is all serious fun.
The book is also a compendium of noir clichés, each one twisted to Coover’s purpose, which is to repurpose noir into a metaphor for existence itself: “On the third floor of a cheap hotel in the theatre district, a silhouetted woman was undressing behind a drawn blind. Same window as last night? No, different neighborhood. The kind of movie showing nightly all over town. The movie you’re in. Chasing shadows.” Noir is total artifice, self-consciously so, and with a tongue more often in cheek than sticking out at the reader, which is what postmodern fiction has pretty much always done."
Michael Rowin takes a look at Robert Coover's new novel Noir for L Magazine: "You are at the morgue. Where the light is weird. Shadowless, but like a negative, as though the light itself were shadow turned inside out." So opens Robert Coover's latest publication, Noir: A Novel, and appropriately so: for forty-five years Coover has been inverting literary convention in works as wide-ranging as seminal experimental short story collection Pricksongs & Descants (1969), controversial Nixon psychodrama The Public Burning (1977), cubistic S&M farce Spanking the Maid (1982), irreverent Pinocchio sequel Pinocchio in Venice (1991), and kaleidoscopic small-town epic John's Wife (1996). Originally labeled along with John Barth, William Gass and John Hawkes as a "metafictionist" for his tendency to take the very act of writing as a subject, Coover's imagination cannot be contained: not only does he continue to expand the boundaries of fiction within the covers of his published books, but as a professor at Brown University he has also become one of the strongest advocates and teachers of the next frontier of fiction, the alinear, interactive medium known as hypertext.
The recently published Noir: A Novel (Overlook Press) is Coover's first in eight years, but in its total cinematic immersion takes up right where Lucky Pierre left off. The protagonist is "you," Philip M. Noir, a clumsy, forgetful, and lecherous private investigator who inhabits a permanently nocturnal labyrinthine cityscape right out of a chiaroscuroed crime thriller. Initially hired by a mysterious and beautiful veiled widow to find her husband's killer, Noir must now find her own murderer in an underworld populated by cantankerous cops (Blue), sultry nightclub singers (Flame), and seedy criminal informants (Rats). The real investigation for Coover, however, is into his usual concerns—memory, consciousness, identity, sex, the constant flux of a deceivingly malleable "reality," the intertwining of cinema and literature—with the dark, bawdy humor (a moll's fading full-body tattoo, used to relay messages between rival yakuza, is described as "suffering the fate of all history, which is only corruptible memory") and impeccable stream of consciousness prose that are his trademarks."
to read Michael Rowin's interview with Robert Coover.
Robert Coover, author of Noir and over twenty other acclaimed works of fiction, will be at the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference in Washington this week. AWP holds its Annual Conference & Bookfair in a different region of North America in order to celebrate the outstanding authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers, and small press publishers of that region. The Annual Conference typically features 350 presentations: readings, lectures, panel discussions, and Forums plus hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings. The conference will host a tribute to Robert Coover this year, and the full schedule is now available.
Robert Coover has received many prizes for his many novels and short story collections, including the Faulkner Award, the Rhea Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship. At Brown University, he teaches Cave Writing (a writing workshop in immersive virtual reality), and directs the International Writers Project, a freedom-to-write program. Last year, The Overlook Press published its first book by this distinguished author: Noir, a true page-turner - wry, absurd, and desolate - which finds this American master at the top of his form.
One of the great baseball novels of all time - Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. J. Henry Waugh, Proprieter - is back in print, in a new edition published this week by The Overlook Press.
Robert Coover, one of the most admired writers of our generation, is the author of many novels, most recently Noir, and has also written short story collections and plays. His work has won the William Faulkner Award and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award.
Matt Weiland's recent essay
, "A Veteran Baseball Novel Comes off the Bench," in The New York Times Book Review
(August 26), pays homage to Coover's amazing, and prescient, 1968 novel:
"Right from the start the book nearly matches On the Road
for sheer electricity . . . Coover made baseball on the page seem three-dimensional, exulting in what he called the game's 'almost perfect balance between offense and defense.' He captured what Philip Roth, in a 1973 New York Times
essay on baseball, called 'its longueurs and thrills, its spaciousness, its suspensefulness, its heroics, its nuances, its lingo, its 'characters,' its peculiarly hypnotic tedium'. . . The genius of the novel is in how Coover revels in the sun-bright vitality of the world Waugh has created, full of drink and lust and dirty limericks and doubles down the line -- and yet brings Waugh face to face with its darkest truths."
Publishers Weekly awards a star for Robert Coover's new novel, Noir: "Metafiction lustily mates with hardboiled mystery in this hilarious homage to Raymond Chandler and company. A sexy widow with plenty to hide hires private eye Philip M. Noir to look into her husband’s mysterious death. Noir slips on his gumshoes and lacy underwear and hits the mean streets, where he encounters the Creep, Fingers, Rats, Snark, and an elusive fat man named Fat Agnes. He even meets people who “live in a different world. It was called daytime.” Prolific postmodernist Coover (The Public Burning) adds his dazzling two bits to the deconstructionist turf Paul Auster prowled in the New York Trilogy. “There’s a mystery here, but you’re a street dick, not a metaphysician,” the second-person narrative explains. Like Thomas Pynchon in 2009’s Inherent Vice, Coover pops off laughs on every page: “Her brother is in it somewhere and he is said also to be wearing women’s underpants and a bra.... Is he your double? No, you don’t have a bra.” And don’t forget, Chandler was really funny, too."
A terrific review of Noir by Robert Coover in the current issue of ForeWord:
“Trouble with webs. When you’re in one, you can’t see past the next knot,” laments private investigator Philip Noir, the lead character in Robert Coover’s book, Noir: A Novel. Thus the sleuth perfectly summarizes this gritty and compelling story filled with danger, death, and dames. In Noir, Coover offers a classic hard-boiled detective novel with a literary twist. The tale certainly provides the genre’s required elements: a mysterious, classy, yet unapproachable woman in trouble; a dark plot filled with traps more and more impossible to escape; and a cast of crooked characters from the police and underworld. Yet the entire story unfolds in the second person (”You were in the alleyway…”), which proves as intriguing as it is challenging to read.
The story unfolds as a mysterious and beautiful widow hires Noir, that is, you, to investigate her husband’s murder. Then, she turns up dead. You feel compelled to solve her murder. So you slink through the city’s dark streets and wade through underground tunnels and sewers, digging up dirt from every contact you have. You interview prostitutes and torch singers, street rats and police insiders from the docks, diners, and bars. You’re a master at this shady underworld, but the widow’s story begins falling apart and few clues emerge. Then, as the bodies of those who help you start piling up, you are framed for murder. You get the idea. As the mystery unfolds, it leads the reader down a fascinating series of false paths and offers a slew of potential solutions. Each character, from the street rat to the secretary to the torch-song singer reveals clues and leads that keep the reader guessing.
, a professor at Brown University, has authored a number of plays, short stories, and novels. And his storytelling expertise is evident in this latest offering. He has created an intriguing plot with captivating twists. A word of warning must be offered to potential readers, however. This book, packed with raw language and sexual references, is intended for adults. Also, the second-person voice, especially when coupled with flashbacks that seem to come unexpectedly from nowhere, make this a challenging, even frustrating, read. But the final solution makes the trouble worthwhile. And the questions left unanswered at the end only make this mystery more fascinating. Mystery lovers who stick with it, adjust to the narrative voice, and are unafraid to tackle perplexing time jumps, will find this a satisfying read." - Diane Gardner