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Adele goes West

Mark Lambert

17 September 1987
Anywhere but here 
by Mona Simpson.
Bloomsbury, 406 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7475 0017 7
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Herself in Love 
by Marianne Wiggins.
Collins, 184 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 00 223147 6
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Journey of the Wolf 
by Douglas Day.
Bodley Head, 235 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 370 31064 0
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Spanking the maid 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 102 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 434 14289 1
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A Night at the Movies, or, You must remember this 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 187 pp., £12.95, August 1987, 0 434 14390 1
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... discriminatingly. But the real journey of Journey of the Wolf is not Sebastian’s back to Andalusia, but the author’s back to Hemingway as Hemingway seemed when we first read him in adolescence. RobertCoover is a marvellous craftsman, and sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, his two new books delight. Who would not enjoy, for example, this efficient, observant passage from the rendition ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder

17 April 1986
Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... vitality, virtuosity, erudition, self-parody and a grossly anarchic humour were the characteristics of the ‘funhouse’ style, which soon came to be identified with novelists such as Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon and Vonnegut as well as with Barth. Funhouse fiction appealed simultaneously to two rather different audiences. Its narrative self-consciousness (later to be renamed Post-Modernism ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White

19 July 2012
Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... preoccupation with ‘major writers’, White turned against ‘avant-garde tricksters’, leaving behind Mallarmé’s obfuscations and Proust’s longueurs to join dependable storytellers like Robert Stone and Joyce Carol Oates. He got mugged by realism. He realised that Elizabeth Bowen is just as good as Virginia Woolf but without the ‘affected prose style’, and that the selling of high art ...

Ludic Cube

Angela Carter

1 June 1989
Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words 
by Milorad Pavic, translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12658 4
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... in the preliminary notes, ‘and when it is shut it can be added to: just as it has its own former and present lexicographer, so it can acquire new writers, compilers, continuers.’ In a US review, RobertCoover suggested that computer hackers might make Dictionary of the Khazars their own as a prototype hypertext, unpaginated, non-sequential, that can be entered anywhere by anybody. This looks ...

Bob and Betty

Jenny Diski

26 January 1995
A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert​ Maxwell 
by Elizabeth Maxwell.
Sidgwick, 536 pp., £16.99, November 1994, 0 283 06251 7
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... Betty Maxwell’s autobiography something of a logical contradiction. Even leaving aside the strangeness, to feminist eyes, of the title’s construction, just a passing knowledge of the dynamics of Robert Maxwell’s ego would seem to preclude the possibility of having the one while being with the other for 47 years. Yet, when one has read the book, it becomes clear that the colon is, after all ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... difficulties between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers’. Most were written by established names, among them Frank Conroy, Stuart Dybeck, Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Stone and Amy Tan. Those writers known partly for formal experimentation whose work Wolff did include (among them Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Mary Robison) did not, in the stories Wolff selected ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World

17 February 2005
Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... of male genitalia. Nixon’s personality was even richer. Gore Vidal parodied him in his 1960 play The Best Man and, beginning in the late 1960s, an impressive roster of American writers, including RobertCoover, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Philip Roth and Garry Wills – whose analyses of Nixon, Reagan and Wayne blazed the trail for Nixon at the Movies ...

What the Public Most Wants to See

Christopher Tayler: Rick Moody

23 February 2006
The Diviners 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 567 pp., £12.99, January 2006, 0 571 22946 8
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... seemed to be looking for a workable compromise between suburban realism and what Gore Vidal once called the ‘Research and Development’ arm of American fiction – the tradition of Thomas Pynchon, RobertCoover, William Gaddis and Don DeLillo. That might not sound hard if you think of R&D as a matter of surface effects: pop-cultural references, metafictional gestures, glazed irony and so on. But for ...

Long Live Aporia!

Hal Foster: William Gaddis

24 July 2003
Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
Atlantic, 113 pp., £9.99, January 2003, 1 903809 83 5
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The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
Penguin, 182 pp., $14, October 2002, 0 14 200238 0
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... also partakes in the demotic language experiments of Postmodernists like Thomas Pynchon (whose interest in entropy, not to mention proclivity for paranoia, he shares), Harry Mathews, Joseph McElroy, RobertCoover and Don DeLillo. Often this distinction between Modernists and Postmodernists is artificial, and Gaddis seems to write in the gap between the two dispensations, between different orders of ...

So this is how it works

Elaine Blair: Ben Lerner

19 February 2015
10:04 
by Ben Lerner.
Granta, 244 pp., £14.99, January 2015, 978 1 84708 891 8
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... author. Perhaps this is why even some critics who like 10:04 responded irritably to its self-referential subplot. Our ideas about metafiction are still strongly influenced by the 1960s: John Barth, RobertCoover, Thomas Pynchon, William Gass. Thanks to the work of this group and the self-named characters of Philip Roth, we might well brace ourselves for archness or emotional coolness (rather than ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter

3 November 2016
The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... One felt one was living on the edge of the imaginable,’ she would write later. It started to feel like ‘living on a demolition site’. In his 2011 preface to the novel, Carter’s friend RobertCoover quotes from one of her letters on the important point to grasp about her aspirations for her fiction, from Heroes and Villains on. She wanted, Coover writes, ‘a language that insisted upon ...

No Light on in the House

August Kleinzahler: Richard Brautigan Revisited

14 December 2000
An Unfortunate Woman 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 110 pp., £12, July 2000, 1 84195 023 8
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Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-70 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 146 pp., £6.99, June 2000, 1 84195 027 0
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You Can't Catch Death 
by Ianthe Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 209 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 1 84195 025 4
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... because it is such a forgiving place, or was once, and such a remarkably pleasant place to be. Some of the presiding literary spirits when Brautigan arrived in town would have been Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer (to whom Trout Fishing In America is dedicated). Writers such as Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso, Snyder, Creeley would also have been moving through at this point, but the so-called ...

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