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Pricksongs & Descants: Fictions by Robert…
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Pricksongs & Descants: Fictions (1969)

by Robert Coover

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5191028,842 (3.58)19
  1. 10
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Book Description
Pricksongs & Descants, originally published in 1969, is a virtuoso performance that established its author - already a William Faulkner Award winner for his first novel - as a writer of enduring power and unquestionable brilliance, a promise he has fulfilled over a stellar career. It also began Coover's now-trademark riffs on fairy tales and bedtime stories. In these riotously word-drunk fictional romps, two children follow an old man into the woods, trailing bread crumbs behind and edging helplessly toward a sinister end that never comes; a husband walks toward the bed where his wife awaits his caresses, but by the time he arrives she's been dead three weeks and detectives are pounding down the door; a teenaged babysitter's evening becomes a kaleidoscope of dangerous erotic fantasies-her employer's, her boyfriend's, her own; an aging, humble carpenter marries a beautiful but frigid woman, and after he's waited weeks to consummate their union she announces that God has made her pregnant. Now available in a Grove paperback, Pricksongs & Descants is a cornerstone of Robert Coover's remarkable career and a brilliant work by a major American writer.

My Review
I'm glad I read this book because it is a unique style of writing but by the end of the book I was getting a little tired of the ambiguity and nonsense. If you like different styles of writing, you may find this book rather interesting. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
I'm glad I read this book because it is a unique style of writing but by the end of the book I was getting a little tired of the ambiguity and nonsense. If you like different styles of writing, you may find this book rather interesting. ( )
  EadieB | Jan 19, 2016 |
The short stories in this collection were so different from each other and from everything else I’ve ever read that it’s hard to know where to begin with this book. Some of them were retellings of well-known stories and fairy tales, although many of those were so obscure that I wasn’t familiar with the original story. There was also a lot of non-linear storytelling with Coover going back and rewriting his own plots so that you were reading several different versions of the same story at once. I liked this technique and the possibilities it raised for a story to go in many different directions, but the book as a whole wasn’t enjoyable for me. I was often lost and felt like I just wasn’t getting it. I also felt like certain plot elements crossed the line from unpleasant and uncomfortable into disgusting and repulsive. Another minor complaint I have to mention is that while I don’t mind it when authors throw in a little bit of foreign language, Coover really tested my patience with the amount of Spanish in the story dedicated to Cervantes. Not being able to understand large chunks of the text gets frustrating after a while. Overall, I never reached the point where I wanted to throw the book across the room, but I’m definitely glad to be finished with it. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Pricksongs and Descants by Robert Coover
4 stars
Pricksongs and Descants is a collection of short stories by Robert Coover that was originally published in 1969. The stories are retellings of popular stories including fairy tales, bedtime stories, and a few biblical stories. The Amazon synopsis states the following: "In these riotously word-drunk fictional romps, two children follow an old man into the woods, trailing bread crumbs behind and edging helplessly toward a sinister end that never comes; a husband walks toward the bed where his wife awaits his caresses, but by the time he arrives she's been dead three weeks and detectives are pounding down the door; a teenaged babysitter's evening becomes a kaleidoscope of dangerous erotic fantasies-her employer's, her boyfriend's, her own; an aging, humble carpenter marries a beautiful but frigid woman, and after he's waited weeks to consummate their union she announces that God has made her pregnant."

I read this book as part of the 1001 group's Books of the Month and I was the only one (thus far) who liked the book. Unlike the others who read this book, I really enjoyed the experience of reading this collection. The writing was wonderful and the stories deliciously creepy, bizarre, and often disturbing. I also normally dislike short stories but I enjoyed these ones. I like strange, bizarre, and seemingly absurd books (perhaps this is why I like Kafka so much). I can't say I spent too much time thinking about the symbolism behind the stories but I just enjoyed the process of reading because Coover challenges this process at every twist and turn. One of the stories, "The Babysitter" was an interesting experimentation in the multiple ways a story could unfold although it wasn't my favorite in terms of content.

I enjoyed the way that Coover's stories were so different in tone, style, perspective from one to the next. In several stories he pulls the reader in the narrative (the Leper), making us wonder how we are complicit in the story. I liked the experimental nature of the stories and how he deconstructed what we normally view as fiction or fairy tales. What made this book special to me was the way that Coover played around with genre and narrative structure, deconstructing the very stories that form the fabric of our own societal mythology.

It was unlike anything I've read on the 1001 list and I quite enjoyed it.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Pricksongs and Descants Robert Coover
★★

A collection of short stories loosely based on fairytales, biblical stories and urban legends, for the most part these were confusing, disgusting or boring.

There were only 3 stories I actually like, The Gingerbread House (Hansel and Gretel) The Babysitter (urban legend) and The Hat Trick (a magic show)
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802136672, Paperback)

Pricksongs & Descants, originally published in 1969, is a virtuoso performance that established its author - already a William Faulkner Award winner for his first novel - as a writer of enduring power and unquestionable brilliance, a promise he has fulfilled over a stellar career. It also began Coover's now-trademark riffs on fairy tales and bedtime stories. In these riotously word-drunk fictional romps, two children follow an old man into the woods, trailing bread crumbs behind and edging helplessly toward a sinister end that never comes; a husband walks toward the bed where his wife awaits his caresses, but by the time he arrives she's been dead three weeks and detectives are pounding down the door; a teenaged babysitter's evening becomes a kaleidoscope of dangerous erotic fantasies-her employer's, her boyfriend's, her own; an aging, humble carpenter marries a beautiful but frigid woman, and after he's waited weeks to consummate their union she announces that God has made her pregnant. Now available in a Grove paperback, Pricksongs & Descants is a cornerstone of Robert Coover's remarkable career and a brilliant work by a major American writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

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