6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tricky Dick's Comeuppance,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Public Burning (Coover, Robert) (Paperback)
The brilliance of The Public Burning can be seen on many levels. Artistically, it's a fascinating novel, structured in Coover's inimitable surreality, he finds the strange gray area between reality, history, and fantasy and constructs a convincing, working world out of it. His transition from known historical record (quoting court records, Time magazine, which he hilariously personifies as the US poet laureatte) to ribald fantasia (the Incarnation of Uncle Sam catching Nixon jacking off while fantasizing about Ethel Rosenberg) is astonishingly smooth. Hell, I firmly believe Nixon did this, just because Coover's representation of it is so believable! On a political level this book gives America's ultimate hypocrite his just deserts, and the funny thing is that as Coover so brazenly points out in the book's amazingly funny final 50 pages, Nixon was always his own worst enemy. Ultimately, Coover makes a very interesting statement about what it means to be in power in this country, and contrary to what conservatives might think, he doesn't leave the democrats out of his criticism. This book isn't about communism at all, but about 1950s America's perception of communism and our government's response to the general perception, or creation of it, to manipulate and control our citizens (isn't that the final goal of government these days, anyway?) As far as religious offense, I find nothing more offensive to me than religion, so I delight in any author willing to have the cojones to criticize it (although criticizing religion is often akin to taking a 12-guage to a pickle barrel full of catfish). Coover stands as an icon of postmodernism, along with Barth, Pynchon, Roth, et al, reinventing the novel form as he writes. This novel should stand the test of time as a beautifully funny reminder of how whacky things sometimes got during the 20th Century, despite all the technological advances.