Friday, April 01, 2011

Coover notes

Reading Robert Coover's Pricksongs and Descants, I am often made to feel as though I'm stuck in an elevator with someone who knows he's the smartest guy in the room - an elevator at a convention of smart guys.

Damn, he's good, though. Headsmackingly, depression-inducingly good. The writer he reminds me of most is Richard Powers -- another scribbler equally interested/obsessed with expanding the possibilities of narrative. The flipside of this talent, however, is a lot of the time you feel like you're watching a puppet show where the puppeteer hogs the spotlight.

Coover's stories read like game pieces and improv exercises; extraordinarily accomplished as far as technique, but lacking in a certain I-don't-know-what. Heart? Maybe, but Coover's stories don't feel completely untouched by human emotion. But even the stabs of pain and darkness in his fiction tend to feel like devices like everything else -- you can still feel the strings as they're pulled.

No comments: