Robert Lowell Coover (born February 4, 1932) is an American novelist, short story writer, and T.B. Stowell Professor Emeritus in Literary Arts at Brown University. He is generally considered a writer of fabulation and metafiction.Life and works
Coover was born in Charles City, Iowa. He attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale, received his B.A. in Slavic Studies from Indiana University in 1953, then served in the United States Navy. He received an M.A. in General Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago in 1965. In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. Coover has served as a teacher or writer in residence at many universities. He taught at Brown University from 1981 to 2012.
Coover's wife is the noted needlepoint artist Pilar Sans Coover. They have three children, including Sara Caldwell.
Coover's first novel was The Origin of the Brunists, in which the sole survivor of a mine disaster starts a religious cult. His second book, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., deals with the role of the creator. The eponymous Waugh, a shy, lonely accountant, creates a baseball game in which rolls of the dice determine every play, and dreams up players to attach those results to.
Coover's best-known work, The Public Burning, deals with the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in terms that have been called magic realism. Half of the book is devoted to the mythic hero Uncle Sam of tall tales, dealing with the equally fantastic Phantom, who represents international Communism. The alternate chapters portray the efforts of Richard Nixon to find what is really going on amidst the welter of narratives.
A later novella, Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears offers an alternate Nixon, one who is devoted to football and sex with the same doggedness with which he pursued political success in this reality. The theme anthology A Night at the Movies includes the story "You Must Remember This", a piece about Casablanca that features an explicit description of what Rick and Ilsa did when the camera wasn't on them. Pinocchio in Venice returns to mythical themes.
Coover is one of the founders of the Electronic Literature Organization. In 1987 he was the winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story.Awards and honors
- 1967 William Faulkner Foundation Award for notable first novel for The Origin of the Brunists
- 1987 Rea Award for the Short Story
- Electronic literature
- The Origin of the Brunists (1966)
- The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. (1968)
- The Public Burning (1977)
- Gerald's Party (1986)
- Pinocchio in Venice (1991)
- John's Wife (1996)
- Ghost Town (1998)
- The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Director's Cut (2002)
- Noir (2010)
- The Brunist Day of Wrath (2014)
- Huck Out West (2017)
Short stories, novellas, plays, and collections
- Pricksongs & Descants (1969) (collection)
- "The Babysitter," inspiration for The Babysitter (1969) (short story)
- A Theological Position (1972) (plays)
A Political Fable (1968, 1980, 2017) (novella)
- Originally published as a short story "The Cat in the Hat for President" in New American Review, 1968; re-released under its original title in 2017.
- Spanking the Maid (1982) (novella)
- In Bed One Night & Other Brief Encounters (1983) (collection)
- Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears (1987) (novella)
- A Night at the Movies or, You Must Remember This (1987) (themed anthology)
- Dr. Chen's Amazing Adventure (1991) (novella)
- Briar Rose (1996) (novella)
- The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) (2002) (novella)
- Stepmother (2004) (novella)
- A Child Again (2005) (collection)
- Going for a Beer (February 2018) (collection)
- "The Case of the Severed Hand". Harper's Magazine. 317 (1898): 74–80. July 2008.
- Reprinted in Noir.
- "White-bread Jesus". Harper's Magazine. 317 (1903): 79–88. December 2008.
- Reprinted in The Brunist Day of Wrath, Chapter I.2
- "An Encounter". Fortnightly Review. October 2010.
- "The Old Man". Fortnightly Review. February 2011.
- "Going for a beer". The New Yorker. March 14, 2011.
- "Matinée". The New Yorker. July 25, 2011.
- "The Goldilocks Variations". The American Reader. August 2013.
- "The Colonel's Daughter". The New Yorker. September 2, 2013.
- "The Frog Prince". The New Yorker. January 27, 2014.
- "The Waitress". The New Yorker. May 19, 2014.
- "The Crabapple Tree". The New Yorker. January 12, 2015.
- "The Hanging of the Schoolmarm". The New Yorker. November 28, 2016.
- "The End of Books". The New York Times. June 21, 1992. (essay)
- ^ "Literary Arts". Brown University.
- ^ Evenson, Brian (2003). Understanding Robert Coover. University of South Carolina Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-1570034824.
- ^ Stengel, Wayne B. (2001). "Robert Coover". In Fallon, Erin; Feddersen, R.C.; Kurtzleben, James; Lee, Maurice A.; Rochette-Crawley, Susan. A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English. Routledge. pp. 118–32. ISBN 1-57958-353-9.
- ^ "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" January 30, 1968, New York Post
- ^ "Unspeakable Practices V: Celebrating the Life and Work of Robert Coover". The Providence Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07.
- ^ "Unspeakable Practices V: Festival Bios". Brown University.
- ^ "Unspeakable Practices V: Celebrating Robert Coover". Brown University.
- ^ Born María del Pilar Sans Mallafré
- ^ "Pilar Sans Coover".
- ^ "Contemporary Midwest Writers Series, Nos. 1,2 Author(s): Franklyn Alexander, Robert Bly, Robert Coover and Camille Blachowicz". The Great Lakes Review. 3 (1): 66–73. Summer 1976. JSTOR 41337445.
- ^ Current Biography Yearbook 1991, volume 52. H. W. Wilson. 1992. p. 159.
- ^ http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail.aspx?ID=4294994511
- Faculty Home Page at Brown University
- "Robert Coover". Providencephoenix.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-08-19. – Interview
- Robert Coover on IMDb
- The End of Books
- Rettberg, Scott. "A History of the Future of Narrative: Robert Coover on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2011-08-19. – Novelist Robert Coover's keynote address at the Electronic Literature in Europe seminar (elitineurope.net), September 13, 2008. Introduced by Scott Rettberg. Videography by Martin Arvebro.
- Lydon, Christopher (2008-12-09). "In the Obama Moment: Robert Coover". Radio Open Source. Radio Interview
- Bookworm Interviews (Audio) with Michael Silverblatt: December 2005, December 2005