- Reading, Writing

Robert Coover: An Appreciation*

By Elisabeth Bell


And so it is that il gran signore, the distinguished emeritus professor from Charles City, Iowa, the T. B. Stowell University Professor without tenure, the world-renowned fabulist and warlord against dead metaphors—also known for the lasting influence of a noisy elevator in Santes Creus—arch-enemy of interviewers the world over, American fiction’s gadfly, organizer of unspeakable gatherings of post-postmodernists, cyberpunk authors, hypertext writers, and other outcasts, the returning pilgrim, lionized author of more novels than you can count, native son, galantuomo, and universally beloved exemplar of mischievousness, realism, and dark humor, not a child of his times, but the child of his times, is discovered on this, the day of his eighty-ninth birthday, head buried and ancient fulminating arse high, when the guests come cruising up in their sleek sky-gray Saabs and Volvos, spotlights glaring, to arrest him (“What are you doing here on the bottom floor?!” they cry) for indecent use of the American language, disturbing the literary peace, suspected—and documented—subversive activities, polluting the literary landscape, and attempting to enter the next year of his life without official written permission. “Avanti, you rascal! And step lively! Or so much the worse for you!”


*Slightly faked from Pinocchio in Venice (1991), chapter 4: “Night of Assassins,” pp. 47-48.


Note: This piece is part of Big Other Folio: Robert Coover.


  • Elisabeth Ly Bell's primary interest is in contemporary American fiction, and her teaching includes creation myths, fairy tales, and topics in American culture. Her writing has appeared in Delta, Critique, and Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other journals.

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