The Public Burning (Coover, Robert)

Robert Coover

Published by Grove Press, 1998
ISBN 10: 0802135277 / ISBN 13: 9780802135278
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Synopsis: A controversial best-seller in 1977, The Public Burning has since emerged as one of the most influential novels of our time. The first major work of contemporary fiction ever to use living historical figures as characters, the novel reimagines the three fateful days in 1953 that culminated with the execution of alleged atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Vice-President Richard Nixon - the voraciously ambitious bad boy of the Eisenhower regime - is the dominant narrator in an enormous cast that includes Betty Crocker, Joe McCarthy, the Marx Brothers, Walter Winchell, Uncle Sam, his adversary The Phantom, and Time magazine incarnated as the National Poet Laureate. All of these and thousands more converge in Times Square for the carnivalesque auto-da-fe at which the Rosenbergs are put to death. And not a person present escapes implication in Cold War America's ruthless "public burning."

Review: For quite some time after the 1977 publication of The Public Burning, it was almost impossible to find a copy. The book's own publisher seemed--no, was reluctant to admit it even existed. That's because this imaginative reconstruction of the 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted for giving atom bomb secrets to the Soviets, was the first major work of modern fiction to feature a still-living historical figure as a prominent character. The book's obscurity was the publisher's attempt to avoid legal repercussions from Richard Nixon, who over the course of the book engages in a romantic interlude with Ethel Rosenberg and graphically surrenders himself to a rapacious Uncle Sam.

Now that Nixon's dead, however, readers are free to marvel at one of the few American novels to rival Joyce's Ulysses for sustained stylistic inventiveness. Snippets of speeches and articles from Time are recast in poetic form, entire scenes are presented in dramatic verse, as events in the Rosenberg case move towards their historically destined conclusion. --Ron Hogan

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Title: The Public Burning (Coover, Robert)
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Book Description Grove Press, New York, NY, 1998. Trade paperback. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 544 p. Coover, Robert. Audience: General/trade. Very good. In Very Good+ condition. Bookseller Inventory # Alibris.0007701

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Robert Coover
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