Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
COMING SOON!!!: A Narrative

John Barth, Author . Houghton Mifflin $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-618-13165-5

..

Rushdie. Barth. Allende. Miller. Wideman. Sibley. These names and a handful of others seemed to be on everybody's lips at BEA 2001, because these are the authors of some of the hottest books to debut at the show, the books that everyone wanted to read. Now PW has read those books and weighs in to let you know whether they measure up to the hopes and the hype.

FictionCOMING SOON!!!: A NarrativeJohn Barth. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (400p) ISBN 0-618-13165-5

Technical ingenuity is a hallmark of Barth's work, and his latest novel relies almost entirely upon it. A Möbius strip of a narrative, the novel begins with the discovery by Ditsy, a transgendered boat captain, of a computer disk containing a novel, Coming Soon!!, by Johns "Hop" Johnson, an aspiring novelist whose specific aspiration is to use this novel, with its hypertextual accoutrements, to get into the Johns Hopkins creative writing program. Hop's novel concerns a Novelist Emeritus, John Barth, who is retiring from Johns Hopkins and writing a last "narrative," Coming Soon, which involves both a writing student named Hop Johnson and Ditsy's discovery of the Coming Soon floating computer disk. In both narratives, Hop is a member of the Arkangel Players on a showboat plying the Chesapeake Bay under the moniker The Original Floating Opera II, referring to Barth's first novel. Furthermore, the crew/cast is investigating the origin of Edna Ferber's Showboat, which was inspired by an earlier Chesapeake showboat, the James Adams Floating Theater. Unfortunately, the display of metafictional conceits that subtends the novel does not make up for clunky writing and uninspired characters. Hop Johnson, the Novelist Aspirant, seems to write, think and talk just like the Novelist Emeritus, which subtracts from the internecine authorial quarrel that is this novel's main interest. There is much gap filling (for example, we are given condensed reports of the news, from 1995 to 1999), and for large stretches the enterprise is seemingly propelled mainly by the need to fill pages with words. Readers are advised to turn to the original Floating Opera and leave this massy addendum to Barth's academic acolytes. (Nov. 1)

Staff
Reviewed on // | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.