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A collection of the best short fictions from the grandmaster of postmodernism.
Robert Coover has been playing by his own rules for more than half a century, earning the 1987 Rea Award for the Short Story as "a writer who has managed, willfully and even perversely, to remain his own man while offering his generous vision and versions of America." Coover finds inspiration in everything from painting, cinema, theater, and dance to slapstick, magic acts, puzzles, and riddles.
His 1969 story "The Babysitter" has alone inspired generations of innovative young writers. Here, in this selection of his best stories, spanning more than half a century, you will find an invisible man tragically obsessed by an invisible woman; a cartoon man in a cartoon car who runs over a real man who is arrested by a real policeman with cartoon eyes; a stick man who reinvents the universe.
While invading the dreams and nightmares of others, long dead, disrupting them from within, Coover cuts to the core of how realism works. He uses metafiction as a means of “interrogating the fiction making process,” at least insofar as that process, when unexamined, has a way of entrapping us in false and destructive stories, myths, and belief systems. These stories are riven with paradox, ambivalence, strangeness, unrealized ambitions and desires, uncertainty, complexity, always seeking the potential for insight, for comedy.
Through their celebration of the improbable and unexpected, and their distinctive but complementary grammars of text and film, Coover’s selected short fictions entertain by engaging with the tribal myths that surround us—religious, patriotic, literary, erotic, popular—often satirizing the mindsets that, out of some obscure primitive need, perpetuate them. The thirty stories in Going for a Beer confirm Coover’s reputation as "one of America’s greatest literary geniuses" (Alan Moore).
“A mix-tape of variations and a fugue on time from a postmodern master....In Coover’s fictional universe, familiar tales and conventional genres are made new, tinged with shuddering wonder and titillating humor.” — Yu-Yun Hsieh, The New York Times Book Review
“Trickster, tinkerer, inventor, parodist....Coover is among the pioneer mutants of American literature, to borrow a phrase Leslie Fiedler bestowed upon William S. Burroughs. You catch his rebel DNA in the work of writers as disparate as George Saunders and Sheila Heti and Donald Antrim.” — Dwight Garner, New York Times
“A riveting, elusive, phantasmagoric, weird, delightful, grim and farcical collection....Coover’s imagination is so rich, demonic, outrageously funny and passionate that as you emerge from one story, you can’t wait for the next one to begin....Coover...is one of our best writers, and this collections underscores that judgment with boundless desire and imaginative bliss.” — Providence Journal
“This collection is astonishing....[Coover] has managed to be literature’s guardian at the same time he has been its re-inventor and alternative...He is both astounding and fun to read at the same time.” — The Buffalo News
“A career-topping marvel, this collection finds meaning in the wildness of the cultural subconscious.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An excellent opportunity to look back at the development of a true original.... Coover can still work at the top of his game.” — Booklist
“Coover's influence endures, and this collection provides good evidence for why that should be so.” — Kirkus