Robert Coover: The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell)


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Robert Coover takes us through the looking-glass of Joseph Cornell’s boxes into a world of “Grand Hotels” we never dreamed of. Rooms are accessed via ferris wheel. They open onto night voyages, crystal cages or sand fountains. They lead us back to childhood, to forgotten games, to sleeping princesses who do not await a prince and, finally, home, poor heart. Funny and wistful by turns, these brilliant vignettes explore the nature of desire and the melancholy of fulfilment. As the author says, the book is also intended as an “architectural portrait of the artist,” with biographical information “built into the construction of the text like girders, brickwork, or decor.”

Coover’s recent novels are Ghost Town (1998), Briar Rose and John’s Wife (both 1996), Pinocchio in Venice (1991), and Gerald’s Party (1985). He has received numerous honors, including the William Faulkner Award, the Brandeis Citation for Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and teaches electronic and experimental writing at Brown University.

“Coover’s concerns are those of the major literary tradition, that of Poe and Melville, Hawthorne and Faulkner, for he seeks in his fiction the truths of the human heart in the labyrinths of a fallen world.”

–R. H. W. Dillard

“Robert Coover is one of our masters now. The tumultuous, Babylonian exuberance of his mind is fueled and directed by his equally passionate craftsmanship. He seems to be able to do anything.”

–Robert Kelly, The New York Times Book Review

“Coover seems seriously concerned about an animal (his own kind) strung out for life between creation and destruction, two longings which twist and marry however we try to untangle them.”

–Ann Gottlieb, The Village Voice