The Waitress Background

The Waitress Background

The Waitress” is a short story by Robert Coover first published in the May 19, 2014 issue of the New Yorker magazine. It is a very short, breezy fairy tale about a waitress who has grown tired of being ogled by all the men who come into the diner where she works. When her latest complaint results in the throwaway wish that nobody could ever look at her again, a bag lady to whom she was charitable grants her wish in a most literal way: anybody who tries to look at her has his head quickly snapped away in the other direction.

“The Waitress” is a continuation of Coover’s fascination with fairy tales and the literary potential that exists in revisiting them from various points of view. The story which Coover published in the New Yorker previous to this story bears a title which says it all: “The Frog Prince.” Coover’s interest in revisiting fairy tales has resulted in everything from individual stories like his urban update of Cinderella as a waitress, with a bag lady as her fairy godmother, to his novel Briar Rose to an entire short story collection that features nothing but fairy tales, A Child Again.

The moral of "The Waitress" seems to be less "be careful what you wish for" than "be smart with your wishes."

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