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Anna Kavan
Wittgenstein's Nephew
David McLintock, Thomas Bernhard

The Public Burning

The Public Burning - Robert Coover, William H. Gass Where to begin? A high-wire act written with stylistic precision and variety? One of the first attempts in serious fiction to utilize a still-living figure? Still fresh 36 years after publication?

It's the first year of the new Eisenhower Administration. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are due to be executed amidst a public spectacle in Times Square (they were electrocuted at Sing Sing). Then there's Veep Richard Nixon who keeps having fantasies about Ethel and carries on an interior monologue through half the book's chapters, sometimes sensitive (rly!) and melancholy, sometimes inadvertently hilarious. "It's a good thing I'm not paranoid," he reflects at one point. Though with a hucksterish, fast-talking Uncle Sam ever present to orchestrate the legal, political, social and cultural proceedings, Nixon--as well as the rest of us--might have reason to be uneasy.

All this makes for a big damn novel. No mythic heroes, though. Because that's rather Coover's point.