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Ghost Town

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A nameless rider plods through the desert toward a dusty Western town shimmering on the horizon. In his latest novel, Robert Coover has taken the familiar form of the Western and turned it inside out. The lonesome stranger reaches the town - or rather, it reaches him - and he becomes part of its gunfights, saloon brawls, bawdy houses, train robberies, and, of course, the c ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 10th 2000 by Grove Press (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Round these parts theres a lot of opinyins about that Cormac McCarthy feller and his book about the West and how it kinda explains America. Blood Meridian is the book whar he done it most famously. It's plenty good, and full of murderin and knife-winkin and to-ing and fro-ing. Very American. But then Cormac went and let hisself be interviewed by thet Operah lady 'n then got chummy with all those Hollywood dyrectors and skinny actresses who walk around with their dinners on a pedestal, which I do ...more
A month after finishing this novel there have been three or four instances where my mind has recalled a scene from the book involving a game of poker. The reasons for the recollection of this part of the narrative are indecipherable. But I think I understand now that this is how Coover's writing works: you are bitten, you are infected, and like a bad strain of malaria, the symptoms of the disease can manifest themselves at any time, for any reason. It's terminal.

Ghost Town is like a mad scientis
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I'm on record somewhere as having said that novels are inherently and constitutionally flawed. Well, let me submit Ghost Town as a candidate for Flawless Novel. Of course -- it's Coover. It may be the simple similarity in setting and the general black humour orientation, but something here tasted like John Hawkes' The Beetle Leg. But too the tone and prose and mild disorientation suggest this comparison.

Just for your nihilistic entertainment purposes, one of those great nihilistic post-modern p
Nate D
Aug 28, 2014 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: stars as holes in the sky
Recommended to Nate D by: looking behind the empty facades
Roll the knucklebones, spin the roulette wheel, and observe as the Archetypes reshuffle: Saloon and Jailhouse replace eachother by circling the gallows, various traits -- One-Eared, Squint-Eyed, Mestizo, Bespectacled, Handlebar Moustached, Tattooed, Old, Young, Alive, Dead, Outlaw, Deputized -- recompose themselves into every character needed or desired. As such, this is not one Western novel but a mechanism for the construction of such, an existential map of forms, containing everything but off ...more
Ciudad fantasma es, por decirlo de algún modo, un potente western alucinógeno en el que su protagonista (un forastero errante que acaba siendo engullido por un espejismo en forma de ciudad) es víctima de las más estupefacientes aventuras. Un particular homenaje a las historias del salvaje oeste americano en el que Coover, haciendo alarde de una espectacular y desviada imaginación, dispara imparables ráfagas de humor negro, casquería e indudable mala leche. Y aunque en algunos momentos (la mayorí ...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

Zarzarrosa y Ciudad fantasma de Robert Coover. Catas postmodernistas

No hay muchas posibilidades, actualmente, de acercarse a la obra de Robert Coover; si sumamos el desorden cronológico a la selección de materiales, el pobre lector que intente introducirse en su obra y en la figura del norteamericano se puede llevar una sorpresa, y no siempre agradable, por las indudables dificultades que ofrece su lectura; la editorial Anagrama publicó varias
Frannie Fretnot
If you liked Blood Meridian, you'll loooove Ghost Town.

I liked it a lot, but like Blood Meridian, found it too difficult to go on once I got the idea. And unlike Blood Meridian, this book is only about 150 pages.

...Couple weeks later I picked it back up again and fell in love with the story. Unlike McCarthy's apocalyptic violence, this is a comical, fantastical violence in what is ironically an even deader landscape.

Clearly I can't explain Coover from the office in between photocopying tasks; yo
Lukas Evan
One of the only post-modern westerns that I know of. And, yeah, some might say Cormac McCarthy but he' s more of a modernist-primitive or something. Robert Coover, best known for "The Public Burning," takes on one of America's signature genres and recasts the tropes and cliches as a kind of absurdist drama reminiscent at times of Beckett and Kafka. By turns bloody and surreal, Coover hits on a singular mix of the profane and the baroque for his dialogue (conveniently presented without quotation ...more
This review won’t be as thorough as my others, as I completely neglected to review it upon completion! I was more than pleasantly surprised with this novel. Despite all the information on the back calling it “existential”, I expected a “terrible” Western (the main reason I suspected this was because the novel was 99 cents and the cover was so bizarre), and what I got was a little gem of a novel that pushed the boundaries of a genre and interposed violence and pastiche with symbolism and phrases ...more
Robert Coover is a tough author to crack. He is a master in post-modern literature, and if you don't often delve into this world, it can be extremely difficult to understand. I had read Coover before this reading Ghost Town. I loved Gerald's Party, despite it taking me forever to read, I've read a few of his shorts, and even read some of his plays. I picked up Ghost Town hoping it would be cool to see him deconstruct an old western, (which he did very well in one of the plays he wrote). However, ...more
José Nebreda
Cada vez digiero peor esta clase de libros. Me parecen pretenciosos y no me dicen nada, no me cuentan una historia, que es lo que realmente me interesa. Muy bien escrito, sí, pero un verdadero coñazo. Es como si el señor Coover se dedicara a recoger pedacitos de todo tipo de películas del oeste y tuviera que irlos encajando de cualquier manera a lo largo de su novela. Aguanté 60 páginas. Con muuuucho, muchísimo esfuerzo, en la esperanza de que algo cambiara. Aburrido. Lo siento, pero a quien le ...more
Connor Holmes
Ghost Town might be summed up by these words of a bullet-riddled man dying in a desert shack, spoken to the gunslinging narrator: "...thet's jest whut it is, see, a stage, I finally figgered it out, a fuckin stage fer tootin yer horn's about style. They aint nuthin else to it." This book isn't a western so much as the mirage of one, western tropes and cliches shimmering in strange and fevered shapes in the shifting desert sands. Coover fragments the traditional gunslinger narrative. He t ...more
Not funny ha-ha, but funny weird.
Dan Quigley
Aug 13, 2014 Dan Quigley rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: an iguana
Recommended to Dan by: John Gardner (by listing him)
Two stars instead of one because in places the book was well written with an excellent choice of vocabulary. The only craft flaw I found was the overly long and dull narrative paragraphs in the last 20 pages. These narrative paragraphs stand in sharp contrast to the really neat dialogue found in the first quarter of the book. Some sentences and words captured the quintessential essence of the Western genre brilliantly. I give it two stars because after just 147 pages it ended in a way that makes ...more
Ben Bedard

A raucous trip into the cliches of the American West, the book is filled with equal amounts of humor and horror. Coover sets out to portray all of the archetypes of the American West: white horses, black horses, train robberies, hangings, the innocent schoolmarm, the whore with the heart of gold--all of which populate the dream-like pages of this book. the writing is particularly gorgeous, sometimes grotesque, but always stunning. It is a surreal trip through the American fantasy of the West. My
There is no doubt that Robert Coover is one hell of a good wordsmith. Unfortunately his novels tend to be overlong. They overstay their welcome and their usefulness and milk a great concept beyond the breaking point. (See the hilarious but overlong "Gerald's Party.")

This is an excellent book. And it's probably Coover's best because it is not too long, it does not wear out it's welcome.
Smiley McGrouchpants
Coover — like Pynchon's Against the Day and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian — helps re-write the nonsense O. Wilde spilled about the "Olde West" in ink, and makes it into a more pleasurable, and less bullshitty, ride: Aren't fictions more fun, when you're not being had?

Get in on the stagecoach! This one's ... leavin' town ... in your head!
Ross Helford
Bizarre, dreamlike, gruesome, grimly hysterical. The writing (from thesaurus-busting narration to old west pidgin dialogue) blew me the hell away. A brilliant and stunningly unique read.
Kest Schwartzman
Coover's dreamlike writing is as captivating as ever. The whole (short) book reas as one stream of conscious, best read straight through and repeating.
Jason Howlett
This was amazing. Like a Cormac McCarthy/Sam Peckinpah fever dream/withdrawal nightmare. Violent, raunchy, poetic and beautiful.
This book is filled with playful grotesquerie that hits a good balance in terms of the amount of content. The length of the book is so crucial, because there is a certain amount of that stuff that you want, and not more. This is my favorite Coover, though there are some of his books that I won't read. He seems to be shadowing me all of my life, whether I read the books or not.
Oct 01, 2008 Hannah added it
Western pastiche, my favorite sub-subgenre!
Sarah Sammis
Sort of a Don Quixote homage.
wow. amazing book
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Robert Coover's F...: 1998 -- Ghost Town 3 16 Feb 12, 2015 08:01AM  
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Born Robert Lowell Coover in Charles City, Iowa, Coover moved with his family early in his life to Herrin, Illinois, where his father was the managing editor for the Herrin Daily Journal. Emulating his father, Coover edited and wrote for various school newspapers under the nom-de-plume “Scoop.” He was also his high-school class president, a school band member, and an enthusiastic supporter of the ...more
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