· 11/07/2011

On Coover's Most Recent

I won’t complain when someone calls what Robert Coover writes in The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) (from Burning Deck Press) prose poems — although they aren’t. If Cornell’s boxes use the juxtaposition of commonplace objects as the unit of discovery, for Coover, it is the sentence; and the sentences in this small book can only be the result of an immaculate conception of the imagination. The removed, factual tone in these ten hotel “brochures” heightens the experience of reading into a painful pleasure:

“Originally built to accommodate those allergic to the blue mist of the Night Voyage [another hotel], as well as insomniacs and those without dreams of their own, the [Grand Hotel] Bald Cockatoo was then little more than an all-night casino and entertainment palace, its name deriving from a famous fortune-telling cockatoo in the main salon whose feathers had been stripped by a freak hurricane off the eastern seaboard and who, wearing a red jacket with a ruffled shirt said to have belonged once upon a time to a prince, pecked out the future, or a possible future, with her beak.”

At the University of Denver, Laird Hunt would often have us bring in “analogs” to what we were reading. Carsten Höller’s Experience currently at the New Museum in New York City through January, seems to do the trick. The kind of movement, the “voluptuous panic” of descending his slide, and the “incredible moment[s] of [exquisite] madness” it is meant to incite, would seem to connect most to finishing one of Coover’s sentences and the the book itself.