Pomo has probably gone the way of those others -isms. You know – minimalism, structuralism, deconstructionism, communism, all of those. It has left a few bodies behind and maybe a few worthwhile writers. Coover is one of the worthwhile ones and he is still turning out good, pomo books, while the others are dead or turning out work of dubious quality. So let’s hear it for post-modernism and Robert Coover. Oh, and the books are listed to the right and they are pretty well all worth reading, while The Public Burning may be one of the best US late 20th century and pomo novels ever.
Robert Coover was born in Iowa City in 1932. His father was a newspaper editor but had to move around a lot. After studying two years at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he read Slavic studies at Indiana University and then joined the navy. After the navy, he stayed abroad, marrying a Spanish woman. This led to rumours that he had been working for the CIA. He was apparently also friends with the very elusive Thomas Pynchon. On returning to the USA, he took an M.A. at the University of Chicago. He has taught at various educational institutions but remains best known as one of the leading post-modernist authors. It was the critic Robert Scholes, in his seminal book, The Fabulators, who placed Coover firmly in the category of fabulator, i.e. writers whose writing is akin to magic realism but whose characters are aware of their fictionality (what a horrible word and not even recognised by my spell-check) and who consciously create and examine myths.
1966 The Origin of the Brunists
1968 The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
1969 Pricksongs & Descants
1972 A Theological Position; Plays
1972 The Waterpourer
1977 The Public Burning
1979 Hair O’ The Chine : a Documentary Film Script
1980 After Lazarus: a Filmscript
1980 Charlie in the House of Rue
1980 A Political Fable
1982 The Convention
1982 Spanking the Maid
1983 In Bed One Night & Other Brief Encounters
1985 Gerald’s Party
1986 Aesop’s Forest
1987 A Night at the Movies, or, You Must Remember This: Fictions
1987 Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears?
1991 Pinocchio in Venice
1996 Briar Rose
1996 John’s Wife
1998 Ghost Town
2002 The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell)
2002 The Adventures of Lucky Pierre: Director’s Cut
2005 A Child Again
2011 Romance of the Thin Man and the Fat Lady
2013 The Brunist Day of Wrath
2017 Huck Out West
2018 Going for a Beer: Selected Short Fictions
2018 The Cat in the Hat for President (story)
2023 Open House (novel)
2023 The Goldilocks Variations (stories)