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Briar Rose (Coover, Robert) Paperback – Bargain Price, December 19, 1997


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"The Sellout" by Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. See more

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert Coover has a power over the language matched by few authors and a curiosity about the nature of stories and narratives that keeps his work intellectually charged, if sometimes difficult to follow. Students of postmodernism and fans of metafiction will be interested to read Briar Rose, Coover's funny deconstruction and retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Long a favorite of modern poets from Paul Valery to Randall Jarrell, the tale of Sleeping Beauty has given rise to some of the century's deepest meditations on the act of writing and the workings of inspiration and desire. Coover (John's Wife, etc.) has always drawn inspiration from classical narratives (he brilliantly reworked Hansel and Gretel in his short-story collection Pricksongs and Descants), so it will hardly surprise his readers that he has devoted an entire, albeit slim, novel to the princess. Briar Rose returns him to what may be his most fruitful obsession, the absurd and inescapable demands that Romance makes on our lives. "Desire," the fairy godmother asks herself, "what is that?" That's the question at the heart of this remarkable thicket of a novel, where plot and point of view intertwine according to the logic of fable, dream and parody. Coover's allegorical retelling of Sleeping Beauty-hard to put down and impossible to paraphrase-is one of his best, bitterest jokes to date. It is also one of his most accessible works, confirming him as simply wittier, sadder, more precise and more inventive than most novelists writing today.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"The Sellout" by Paul Beatty
A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Coover, Robert
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (December 19, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135412
  • ASIN: B00AK3E6CU
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,515,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Coover has published fourteen novels, three short story collections, and a collection of plays since The Origin of the Brunists received the The William Faulkner Foundation First Novel Award in 1966. At Brown University, where he has taught for over thirty years, he established the International Writers Project, a program that provides an annual fellowship and safe haven to endangered international writers who face harassment, imprisonment, and suppression of their work in their home countries. In 1990-91, he launched the world's first hypertext fiction workshop, was one of the founders in 1999 of the Electronic Literature Organization, and in 2002 created CaveWriting, the first writing workshop in immersive virtual reality.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sesho on March 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Coover is one of the pioneering post-modernists that started working in the 60's and shows no signs of stopping...The three main characters of the piece are the princess, known as Rose, the rescuing prince, and the wicked fairy who cast the spell on her.
Instead of an innocent princess, we have one who dreams of being violated sexually by her prince before he gives her a kiss to wake her. She is aroused by this. The only world she inhabits is that of her dreams. In her moments of existentialist thought she questions why she has to be the princess. Why is she made to suffer? What did she do wrong to be enchanted into an eternal sleep?
The prince at first appears to be the stereotype we all know. He is handsome, brave, and whose sole reason for living is to do good. He is flawed, though, by his own over-confidence. Most of the book he is cutting through briars. Even he is not really interested in Rose. He is simply fulfilling his mythic job. Namely, rescuing virgin maidens. He has a problem with his fate too. He lives for the quest and recognizes that once the quest is over the aftermath becomes too mundane. If he rescues the princess, he will have to marry her and settle down. There is no mystery or wonder in day to day life and so he almost dreads getting to the castle to wake her.
As with most post-modern thought the fairy exhibits both good and evil sides, almost a two-face type character. She feels on one side a joy in the princess' suffering but on the other hand she feels she rescued her from an otherwise humdrum existence. At least while she is enchanted she will not know death or pain. Unfortunately, the fairy has to supply the dreams of Rose and most of them are about horrible tales that happened to sleeping princesses.
I liked this book a lot.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I first studied creative writing in college, my professor named three men he thought had defined the novel to that point, John Gardner, Robert Coover, John Barth (I would add others, but that's what he said). Coover's genius lies in his word craft. He drifts between reality, the dream, the dream of reality, and the reality of the dream (those really are 4 different things) effortlessly. To call his writing surreal doesn't begin to do it justice. He writes fiction that reads like your own thoughts, as if you were thinking each word as it appeared before your eyes. His novels live in a twilight zone squeezed in between dimensions, and although often populated by familiar names and faces (such as in this book and The Public Burning) he delves into the motivations that make the characters what they are. What makes a prince forge through brambles? What does a princess think and dream about while magically asleep for 100 years? Coover's speculations are hilarious, thought-provoking, mysterious, and compelling. A beautifully constructed story that we all already know, turned in on itself, and dissected to reveal level upon level of consciousness. Fine work from a true master of literature.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nescio on September 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While reading Coover's book, you might find yourself confused. This is only appropriate, as Coover wrote an existential masterpiece. The prince's efforts to penetrate the briar hedge lead him nowhere. Beauty dreams of a series of princes waking her, each worse than the last. They seek eachother because they seek the only concept they know will not melt away.

If you consider the phrase "someday my prince will come" sacrosanct, this is probably not a good one to read.

If you need a traditional narrative, this is probalby not a good one to read.

If you're looking for a read aloud for your children...perhaps try a different book.

Otherwise, enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Briar Rose is the name of the princess in Sleeping Beauty and the name of the Grimm brothers version of the story is Little Briar Rose. Robert Coover tells the story from three points of view. First is the point of view of the prince entering and cutting his way through the briars on a heroic/erotic quest. Then there is the princess dreaming of her rescue by a kiss from the spell induced by a spindle prick and the promised handsome prince who will do the kissing. Lastly, is the evil fairy who cast the spell and who keeps the princess company by telling her stories during her 100 year slumber. The story keeps switching between these three perspectives, with much repetition. Each character explores their own expectations and fears through this process.

This is a story rich in mythic and erotic symbolism, and Coover explores these in depth as each character relives the event in their mind from slightly different perspectives over and over again. As a study in the symbolism and possible overtones of the brief story, Coover's work is excellent. People looking for a romantic retelling of the original tale should definitely look elsewhere because some of the variations include disturbing elements like incest, cannibalism, adultery, and rape. While nowhere near as much an erotic fantasy as Anne Rice's three volume Beauty series, this book is still not appropriate for the faint of heart or children.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As I read this book for a college class on fairy tales, I began to realize what Coover was doing: throwing out narrative for an exploration of destiny, fairy tales, dreams, story, and relationship to the reader. By the end of the short book, I totally hated it. So what do I do? I read it again. That's right, I'm drawn back to this meticulous piece of boredom. I guess that means the book is either brilliant or such a beautiful car wreck I have to make a U-turn to take a second look.
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