Saturday, September 10, 2016
Coover story and today's U.S. politics
Old Friend Robert Coover has a story in the current New Yorker, The Invasion of the Martians, that recalls some of Coover's best, early work - riffing on American politics like his most famous novel, The Public Burning, and even going back earlier: who else remembers his great story The Cat in the Hat for President? That story showed how a character speaking in anomalies could generate national support (the book and movie Being There took on the same theme and got more attention); today, that feels nostalgic: we only wish the candidates spoke vapidly. In fact, one of them is all too clear in his hateful messenging, and the Martian story picks up on that theme - it's by no means a roman a clef about the current election, but the connections are pretty obvious. The story is about sexually crude Texas Senator who learns of a Martian invasion in his home state and who shows up on the scene to annihilate the invaders; in reaction, they hit him w/ a ray of some sort that has the effect of destroying his "masculinity" and leaving in its place an itching blister. Yecch. The Senator is pressured to go on air live to show the nation that he still has his stuff and, with the aid of a prosthetic penis and balls, he does so. So you can see the allusions to Trump's sowing of fear and hatred and his crude sexual boasting. The story ends pretty abruptly, and I wish Coover had made more of it - what happens after the big reveal? What is the Senator's fate? The nation's? - but it's an amusing send-up of U.S. politics in its present sorry state.