Robert Coover, Author . Grove $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1724-3

Film has long been one of Coover's favorite tropes, used brilliantly in the short story collection A Night at the Movies (1987). His new novel returns to the medium, this time endlessly looping through triple-X porn flicks. Protagonist Lucky Pierre is a porn star buffoon who wanders about Cinecity—the capital of Coover's fictional land—with his penis sticking out of his pants. Cinecity is a porno dystopia where every encounter between man and woman, or for that matter man and animal, or woman and vegetable, is destined to end in sex. The nine "reels" of the novel are dominated by nine different women who are stars, directors and muses. Lucky encounters Cinecity's anti-celebrity guerrilla activists, the Extars, led by Carlotta; gets married in a group orgy to Connie; and is victimized by Cinecity's sadistic mayor, Cora. He suspects that having his penis frozen, falling down an elevator shaft and nearly drowning aren't just filmset accidents, but are actually scripted into an overall film—one in which he is set up as the fall guy. His strategy is to try to find a way out of the film, but in the logic of the novel Lucky himself is merely the embodiment of a film's trajectory, and escape is impossible. The result is a carnival of stasis and penis jokes that shows Coover at his most precious. Some passages are marvels of descriptive prose—fierce, vigorous and pungent—but the endless scenes of torture and smutty closeups are tedious and curiously spiritless, and Coover says little about celluloid culture and movie narratives that he hasn't said elsewhere with more generosity and exuberance. Agent, Georges Borchardt.(Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/02/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-8021-4041-8
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