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John's Wife Paperback – April 18, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a starred review PW called this novel of a small-town mall-builder and his disappearing wife "biting and suggestive, a spicy blend of erudition and scatology, epic and farce."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

John may be a hotshot architect, but it's John's wife who has everyone in thrall in his small town. More sharp-edged observations from the author of A Night at the Movies (Dalkey Archive, 1992).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 18, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830438
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,170 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Furman on October 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had never heard of Coover before seeing the book in the discount section of a bookstore. The first paragraph of the book was on the cover, and it was so well written, so interesting, that I purchased it on the spot.
While I am glad to have met this obviously skilled writer, the book was tough to get through because it maintained one clever, ironic tone and never waivered (although it was well written). It was almost hypnotic in its metronomic leaping from character to character, and the omnipotent viewpoint of the narrator was claustrophobic and omnipresent. I wanted to grab the narrator and demand that he (yes, he) release his monopolistic grip on defining the reality of this town, and let the people in it define themselves.
I kept waiting for the characters to have even the slightest glimmer of self-awareness, and just when they appeared to reach this point, the author had them chicken out or choose the easy path and sink back into the self-deluded oblivion of their small town lives and loves.
And, in the end, that is what this book is all about--how we bury ourselves in self-delusions of grandeur, greed, sex, food, money, lust, work, religion, and art in order to obscure our own cowardice from ourselves. Coover leaves us with an incredibly bleak (if comedic) view of suburban life, but let's face it, like all dark comedies, it is the truth that makes it have relevance.
The title character, John's Wife, is the ultimate focal point of all of the character's neurotic longings. Not surprisingly, she is a total figment of their corporate imagination, so much so that she has no independent existence at all, not even a name.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Garrett Rowlan on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Is that a contradiction? Perhaps. The mountains of expository prose without dialougue breaks or chapter divisions make this a forbidding work, and yet Coover's prose is so incandescent, so witty with its turns of phrase, puns, and moments of sublime insight that I couldn't put it down. The first half of the book is a satire on small town life, the second half is both surreal and sad, but engaging throughout. I especially liked the contrast between John and John's Wife, between the man of action (destructive action) and his evanescent spouse, as if Coover were contrasting the world and the spirit in this unlikely paring. A excellent book, and I plan to read more by this author
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By on August 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
Coover's lengthy tome presents the intertwined tales of the lives of bizarre folks in a small town. The pseudo-stream-of-consciousness styling necessitates constant repetition of basic facts about the characters, so that the reader doesn't forget who's who. Despite my average rating, I stuck with it to the end, who knows, maybe you will too.
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