AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR Robert Coover says the biggest misperception people have of him is that he's not a realist. "I learned realism from Kafka," he says, "who would take a metaphor, twist it, and then intransigently pursue it." Coover, referring to Kafka's famous Metamorphosis, says that the writer can't "turn the bug back into a human...that doesn't work, that's cheating."
In many ways Coover is explaining his own unique style, a pursuit of metafiction and fabulism that becomes at once so real that both the author and the reader can't stop until the peculiarity becomes resolved. And Coover insists that he's a realist at heart, so much so that he once reluctantly set out to write a novel, The Origin of the Brunists. It would remain his most straightforward work until, almost 50 years later, he published its sequel, The Brunist Day of Wrath. LARB AV's Jerry Gorin caught up with Coover in Los Angeles to find out why he set out to write it, and how it complements the short stories and parables that have defined his legendary career.