Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Public Burning

by Robert Coover

“I would guess that since World War II only Lolita, The Invisible Man, and Catch-22 are in [The Public Burning‘s] class for durability. But for the risks it runs, for its capacity and reach, for its literary and probable social consequences, nothing I know of written in our language since the war can touch it.” –Geoffrey Wolff, New Times

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 560
  • Publication Date May 20, 1998
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3527-8
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $17.00

About The Book

A controversial best-seller in 1977, The Public Burning has since emerged as one of the most influential novels of our time. The first major work of contemporary fiction ever to use historical figures as characters, the novel reimagines the three fateful days in 1953 that culminated with the execution of alleged atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Vice-President Richard Nixon – the voraciously ambitious bad boy of the Eisenhower regime – is the dominant narrator in an enormous cast that includes Betty Crocker, Joe McCarthy, the Marx Brothers, Walter Winchell, Uncle Sam, his adversary The Phantom, and Time magazine incarnated as the National Poet Laureate. All of these and thousands more converge in Times Square for the carnivalesque auto-da-fé at which the Rosenbergs are put to death. And not a person present escapes implication in Cold War America’s ruthless “public burning.”

Tags Literary

Praise

“I would guess that since World War II only Lolita, The Invisible Man, and Catch-22 are in [The Public Burning‘s] class for durability. But for the risks it runs, for its capacity and reach, for its literary and probable social consequences, nothing I know of written in our language since the war can touch it.” –Geoffrey Wolff, New Times

“A great work of art, the kind of book you come across once in a lifetime.” –The Washington Times

“A major achievement of conscience and imagination.” –The New Republic

“Genuinely shocking . . . [An] encyclopedic narrative of the kind Edward Mendelson has traced back from Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to Ulysses and Gargantua and Pantagruel.” –Newsweek

“Depending on which page you open it to, Robert Coover’s sprawling 1977 novel The Public Burning may appear to be any one of a great many things: an expose of a miscarriage of injustice; a fictional memoir of Richard M. Nixon; an analysis of occult elements in public space and government rites; a historical novel about the Eisenhower era; a comic book battle between a fantastic superhero and supervillain; or a far-reqaching critique of a nation so caught up in its own fears and hysterical rhetoric that it can no longer honor its own ideals. It is testament to Coover’s immense skills as a writer that his novel succeeds at being all of thse things, and ends up, in fact, transcending the sum o fits formidable parts.” –Jeremy Bushnell, Monkeyfist.com