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Robert Coover’s New Novel

I just finished reading Robert Coover’s Noir, and it’s excellent. It’s another of his metafictional takes on the mystery genre. Since I just finished my review of it, I won’t say much more except that I think it’s one of the year’s best efforts so far, and that I highly recommend it.

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

14 thoughts on “Robert Coover’s New Novel

        1. And it’s not the first time he’s done something like this. In Gerald’s Party (1986), Coover reframes the tropes of the murder mystery, not to mention his various recastings, reframings, retellings of other tropes, genres, myths, fairy tales, etc. Makes me want to go back and read all the other books I’ve missed.

  1. Nice timing. I was just rereading David Bordwell’s analysis of noir, in which he claims it isn’t a genre at all, but rather a convergence of a few different methods of working that became codified into a loose style… Namely American and French crime fiction, and German Expressionism. (See ON THE HISTORY OF FILM STYLE, 1998).

    In that book, Bordwell reminds us that the noir pre-existed the American films of the 1940s, in French noirs like PÉPÉ LE MOKO (1937)—hence the meaning behind the essay that introduced the term: Jean-Pierre Chattier’s “Les Americains aussi font des films ‘noirs'” (“The Americans also make ‘noir’ films”) (Revue du Cinema, No. 2, 1946).

    The French, having not seen any early 1940s Hollywood films (due to that little dust-up we call WWII), were startled afterward to see that Americans were busy making crime films that they thought similar to pre-war French cinema. Being hit with a bunch of them all at once made the style particularly stand out to them (especially since it seemed so close to home), hence their particular obsession with the style.

    Anyway, I’m curious to see what Coover is doing with those four little letters… One must remember that he did also write A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES…

    1. Note that I did not say that this was a metafictional take on noir, but on the mystery genre. The title of the novel refers to the detective in the story: Philip M. Noir.

      Coover is playing with recognizable conventions of genre here, particularly those belonging to crime/detective fiction in the hardboiled style.

      1. I would expect nothing less.

        That said, I don’t believe that “noir” is a genre. (Most noirs are westerns, not crime novels.)

        And no one can convince me otherwise.

        NO ONE!!!!

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