Robert Lowell Coover (February 4, 1932 - ) is an American author and professor ermeritus in the Literary Arts program at Brown University. He is generally considered a writer of fabulation and metafiction. Coover is one of the founders of the Electronic Literature Organization.
Born in Charles City, Iowa, he attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale, received his B.A. in Slavic Studies from Indiana University in 1955, 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.
Coover's first novel was The Origin of the Brunists, in which the sole survivor of a mine disaster starts a religious cult. The novel won the William Faulkner Foundation Award for notable first novel. Starting with his second book, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., Coover's work turned from realism to fabulation and metafiction. The Universal Baseball Association explores the interaction of fantasy and real life, through the eponymous Waugh, a shy, lonely accountant who creates a baseball league in which rolls of the dice determine every play, as well as life and death.
Coover's third novel, 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. Because of fear of a lawsuit from Nixon, the book had difficulty finding a publisher. Viking published it in 1977 but as it began appearing on best-seller lists, pulled all promotion and support of it, without explanation. However, the book has been cited as
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.
In 2014 Coover returned to (mostly) realism with The Brunist Day of Wrath, a sequel to his first novel, and in 2017 he published Huck Out West, a sequel to Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In addition to over eleven novels, Coover has published books of short fiction, play scripts, and essays. He lives in Providence, RI with his wife, Pilar Coover.
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Originally laid in A Political Fable by Robert Coover. PS3553 O633 P65 1980a c.2
Accession number 23060
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