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NYS Writers Institute, Tuesday, January 31, 2017
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

Robert Coover, major American fiction writer and founding father of “metafiction,” will present his rollicking new adventure tale, Huck Out West (2017), at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany Uptown Campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and cosponsored by UAlbany’s English Department to inaugurate its new Creative Writing Minor.

Robert Coover,
pioneer of experimental and electronic fiction, is celebrated for work that reinvents and reimagines the art of storytelling.  The New York Times has called him “a one-man Big Bang of exploding creative force.” He is the author of more than 25 books including the novels The Origin of Brunists (1966), which received the William Faulkner Award for best first novel; The Public Burning (1977), nominated for a National Book Award; and the story collection A Night at the Movies (1987), winner of the Rea Award.

Huck Out WestHis new novel, Huck Out West (2017), picks up where Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn leaves off – the moment when Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape “sivilization” and “light out for the Territory.”  Following Huck as he rides shotgun with the Pony Express, mines for gold, and lives with the Lakota, the novel explores a formative period in American history, from the Civil War to the centennial year of 1876. In the West, it’s a time of grand adventure, but also one of greed, religious insanity, mass slaughter, virulent hatreds, widespread poverty and ignorance, ruthless military and civilian leadership, and huge disparities of wealth.

In a starred review Booklist said, “Coover nails Mark Twain’s tone and voice (including the hilarious malapropisms) but, more than that, evokes the deadpan dark humor and social commentary that made Huck’s Adventures infinitely superior to Tom’s.... Coover delivers a near-masterpiece. It’s pitch-perfect and laceratingly funny but also a surprisingly tender, touching paean to the power of storytelling and the pains of growing up.” Garth Risk Hallberg, reviewer for The Millions, said, “A giant stands on the shoulders of a giant, and the view is large and giddying. In its vibrant skylarking and in its yearning undertow, this disenchanted enchantment throws new light on Twain’s America—and on Robert Coover’s.” T. C. Boyle said, “In Huck Out West, Robert Coover brilliantly (and outrageously) revives Mark Twain’s cardinal character by way of deconstructing any number of our cherished myths. Coover is in fine antic form here—truly, Huck never had it so good.”

Robert Coover has taught at Brown University for over 30 years, where he established the International Writers Project, a program that provides an annual fellowship and safe haven to international writers who face harassment, imprisonment, and suppression of their work in their home countries. In 1990-91, he launched the world’s first hypertext fiction workshop, was one of the founders in 1999 of the Electronic Literature Organization, and in 2002 created CaveWriting, the first writing workshop in immersive virtual reality. In Spring 2018, W. W. Norton will publish a collection of Coover’s most recent short stories, several of which have appeared in The New Yorker.

Previous Visit: September 12, 1996

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst