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A Child Again (Coover, Robert) [Hardcover]

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Item description for A Child Again (Coover, Robert) by Robert Coover...

Casey returns to bat. The Pied Piper pipes again. Little Red Riding Hood is not safe yet. Robert Coover returns with a new collection of short fiction, reexamining our shared narrative heritage --- myths, fairy tales, and favorite childhood stories --- and unearthing the underlying hope, fear, and wonder at their core. Playful yet systematic, satirical yet empathetic, Coover uses the stories of our past to point towards a fiction of the future.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   276
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.5" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2005
Publisher   McSweeney's
ISBN  1932416226  
ISBN13  9781932416220  

Availability  0 units.

More About Robert Coover

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Coover teaches at Brown University. He also lives in Providence, RI.

Robert Coover currently resides in London.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > United States

Reviews - What do customers think about A Child Again (Coover, Robert)?

Outstanding, clever, cynical and sympathetic fabulist short stories  May 15, 2006
Robert Coover is one of the most celebrated writers of our time, for novels such as The Public Burning and for short fiction collected in books such as Pricksongs and Descants. Coover has always been something of a fabulist, and in A Child Again he is overtly working that vein. The stories are reimaginings of fairy tales, children's stories, a song ("Puff the Magic Dragon"), puzzles. There is even a depiction of a stick figure visiting our world. The title of the collection suggests a return to childhood - perhaps even a "second childhood" - but from the viewpoint of age, a viewpoint often cynical, other times knowing or accepting.

Indeed perhaps the dominant theme is old age - perhaps not a surprise from a 77-year-old writer. (Though to be sure some of these stories were first published decades ago.) Story after story looks at characters from a familiar tale grown very old. The collection opens with "Sir John Paper Returns to Honah-Lee", about the aging Jackie Paper visiting his childhood friend Puff the Magic Dragon once again. And it closes with "Aesop's Forest", which depicts the death of Aesop the fabulist along with the death of the characters in his forest, particularly a very decrepit lion. The story is sad and funny and cynical in equal measure - which could be said of many of the stories here.

One of my favorites is "Alice in the Time of the Jabberwock". Again, an aging character returns to the fantasy world she visited as a youth. Alice, apparently menopausal, flabby, incontinent, and otherwise afflicted with the ills of the elderly, finds herself again in unchanging Wonderland. Coover very cleverly depicts the characters of Wonderland from a slant viewpoint, and very movingly but not sentimentally depicts Alice's regrets and frustration.

Not every story insists on aging characters. "The Dead Queen" is a "what happens after happily ever after" story, in which Prince Charming begins to be concerned about Snow White's true character as they bury her tortured stepmother. "The Last One", another favorite of mine, is the story of Bluebeard from the point of view of Bluebeard - paranoidly convinced that his lovely new wife will disobey him as all the others have, by visiting his secret charnel room. But there is a nice twist buried in the close.

Coover is also fascinated by games and metafictional tricks. Three stories are presented as puzzles: a riddle, a cryptogram, and most humorously, a jigsaw puzzle, "Suburban Jigsaw", in which the tabs and slots of the puzzle seem representative of the sexual habits of the adulterous characters of the title suburb. Even cleverer, perhaps, is "Heart Suit", a story presented as fifteen cards (an introduction, a joker, and the heart suit) in a pocket at the back of the book. The story concerns the mystery of who stole the tarts the Queen of Hearts baked for the King. It is designed to be read with the cards shuffled in any order (except for the first and last). I tried a few possible orders and it works quite well - the fact that the guilty party might be one of several suspects is part of the point.

I haven't touched on many of the stories here - such as "The Presidents", which hilariously views Presidents as a rather unpleasant species of animal, or "The Return of the Dark Children", a powerful look at the guilty response of the parents of Hamelin to the loss of their children to the Pied Piper. The book is outstanding - clever throughout without forgetting to mean something, cynical but still sympathetic to its characters, and excellently written, in long carefully constructed paragraphs and a quite individual voice.
Good from beginning to end  Dec 20, 2005
This collection of short stories by Robert Coover is nothing short of genius. First of all, let me say that I don't usually read short story collections beginning to end. This collection, however, I read cover to cover. It consumed me. The power of Coover's prose cuts deeper than the fun, mercurial language initially suggests-- you'll find yourself thinking about these stories as you ride to work; you'll find yourself comparing them to real life situations; you'll find yourself mentioning them in conversation; you'll find yourself re-reading them, and enjoying them even more the second time.
While every story varies wildly in voice, tone, and subject matter, they all seem to be striking at a similar theme, which is the pain of growing old, the death of childhood illusions and fantasies. While this theme isn't new, Coover always puts a fresh, somewhat sick twist on it.This book about the years after the fairy tale ends, the denoument in which Alice is still stuck in Wonderland, now grown fat and irritable, her hormones raging out of control. By inverting the framework of stories that we have all read and enjoyed as children, Coover cuts directly into the deep longing to return to childhood that each of us possesses. Moreover, he never fails to surprise, to take the unexpected position and flesh it out with astounding understanding.
To top it all off, Mcsweeney's (as usual) has crafted a gorgeous book to house these stories. If nothing else, buy it just to have one of the most beautiful hard cover books published in the last ten years on your bookshelf.
This one's a winner. Check it out.


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