Briar Rose

Robert Coover, Author Grove Press $18 (86p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1591-1
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. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997
Release date: 02/01/1997
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