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A Night at the Movies, Or, You Must Remember This: Fictions

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  314 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A new collection of interlocking short fictions that pay an irreverent and entertaining fictional tribute to Hollywood myths, from the acclaimed author of The Public Burning and Gerald's Party.
Hardcover, 187 pages
Published March 1st 1987 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1987)
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Sarah Like almost any postmodern work, it can hardly be summarised. If you really need it for something like a thesis, I suggest you actually read it or…moreLike almost any postmodern work, it can hardly be summarised. If you really need it for something like a thesis, I suggest you actually read it or read about Robert Coover's works from a more scholarly source.(less)

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 ·  314 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014

What kind of play is this? Who took the light away? And why is everybody laughing?

I'm in awe at the power of Richard Coover not only to capture in words the magic of an eminently visual medium, but also at his dismantling and reassembling the sacred monsters of the silver screen that have become such an integral part of our cultural landscape. Every sequence in this collection starts with a bit of nostalgia and homage to the genres depicted (western, big historical epic, noir crime, slapstick
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nathan Redman
Recommended to Ian by: La Nina Mala
Warning: These Movies Have Not Been Approved for Adult Audiences (Potentially Illegal, Immoral or Infringing)

Inside the Oval Orifice (You Must Remember This)

Agent one uses an axe to cut his way through the front door and get into the lobby. Agent two rushes into the office, where he is hiding behind the gold curtains. It's easy to find him, because his shoes are pointing out beneath the curtains. “This is outrageous,” he says, like so many of his helpless victims bef
Vit Babenco
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love watching art-house films and I enjoy books about movies. I’ve already read three great postmodern novel of this kind: The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, Blue Movie by Terry Southern and Zeroville by Steve Erickson so A Night at the Movies is an excellent addition to this series.
Similar to ghost towns there is somewhere a ghost movie palace – there are no viewers but the ghostly movies keep running nonstop. And similar to King Solomon's Song of Songs there now is Robert Coover’s Movi
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cinephiles, Writers.
Recommended to Mala by: Robert Coover's Fable Land
Remember those times when going to a movie was an occasion worth anticipating & dressing up for? First day, first show & if you happened to have access to a premiere - wow! that would be cinematic nirvana.
Remember when cinema halls were grand affairs - a foyer with a fountain & a huge chandelier, marble staircase, red velvet curtains...Hard to conjure that scenario in these times of multiplexes, drive-ins, Netflix, movie-on-demand & so on.
But the sad emptiness of a magnificant ci
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”It’s like watching the pictures and being in them at the same time, as though one might be able somehow to eat the world with one’s eyes, if that’s not too idiotic.”

Well this was pretty much insane, in a very good way. Coover takes the tropes, cliches, stereotypes, slang, conceits, customs and conventions of the world of movies and the movie theater and amps them up, blows them out, writes them into an übersurrealnonstoptrainofimagemotiondreamfilm-prose in these connected short pieces that, whi
Oliver Bateman
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'd like to write that this was a truly fantastic book, but it wasn't. Like Coover's Pricksongs and Descants--and unlike his wonderful, propulsive, and thoroughly immersive Ultimate Baseball Association--A Night at the Movies struck me as a text that was intended for the aspiring writer, not the avid reader. In that sense, it's quite useful--there's a lot to learn here, and Coover's techniques are easy enough to grasp, even if their execution, however skillful, can be quite tedious--but I expect ...more
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: cinephiles and postmodernists
Shelves: 2007, short_stories
Oh, this collection is delightful! It's structured like a night (or, more aptly, a whole glorious day) at the movies, complete with features, short subjects, and an intermission. Coover moves gracefully through, between, and around genres; he also uses the language and logic of dreams to capture the feeling of being deep within a movie and within the culture of the cinema. Stories like "Charlie in the House of Rue" and "You Must Remember This" seem to exist in the spaces between frames--familiar ...more
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Around 1987, the concept of multimedia was more a case of rock stars like Bowie or Jagger appearing in films, or books with an audio CD shoehorned into the inside flap. We people back then only had 5 senses, 2 ears and 10 fingers. Here, from that year, we get an experimental novelist using the grammar of the Hollywood movie to drive a story collection.

The classic in this postmodern short story selection is the last piece (You Must Remember This), a lusty and sharply-written imagining of the miss
Jenny Bohannon
Feb 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really couldn't get into these stories, maybe because I was reading this for school along with several other books for other classes, but this style of writing just didn't interest me. I get that it's satire, but the stories were too jumpy, some nonsensical, and parts vulgar. I couldn't wait to be done with it.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anybody paying even the scantest attention would be aware that I am leaning hard into a Coover completist kick this year. Now, for a long time I have seen what Coover does in the same way most people do: merry postmodern play of a metafictional / intertextual nature. Reading A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES, which is most of the time as seemingly playful and light-hearted as anything he has produced, it dawned on me that the word "play" might not be a strong enough for what I was encountering. It may also ...more
Jun 25, 2012 added it
Shelves: 2012
Should I write that the title story's pretty smutty? Or can you just guess that from the name on the cover? How about that that same story is also pretty great (though, yeah, again, that name on the cover), not because of the smuttiness, but because of the melancholia that is always its wake, that desiccating House of Rue just beyond the pleasures of the local Palace? By that part of the program, of course, Coover's patrons are shuffling out of the theater, the only smacking sounds their shoes f ...more
The Charlie Chaplin story sounds like its worth the price of admission.

Not the Vincent Price of Admission which is your mortal soul, frog! Wait. Did V.P. try to steal Kermit's soul? No. That was Alice Cooper. And he bought Gonzo's. Alice Cooper, Robert Coover. Alice Coover, June Cleaver, John Cheever. June, John. John, Alice. Alice, June. Robert, John. Vincent! Vincent, you already know Alice. June, this is Vincent. Vincent, John and Robert. Oh, all those holiday party introductions.
Adam Rodenberger
Nice concept, but I found myself pretty unimpressed with the final product. The first story made sense - a menagerie of scenes from various movies thrown together on top of each other (both physically and metaphorically) - but the rest of the book seemed to fall flat for me. The writing was good, the stories were not.
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
We get it, Robert Coover. You like to experiment with conceptual ideas and what characters would do that we don't see on screen. Most of these stories don't nescesitate their (relatively short) lengths, and continue to (in the case of "You Must Remember This", literally) bang you over the head with his cool idea. The concept is great, just not very gratifying to read.
Juliana Gray
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
I did not love this book. The stories were clever enough, but Coover seemed to hit the same notes in each one. Maybe it just seems dated; I'm sure if I'd read this in grad school, I would've enjoyed it a lot more.
Paolo Latini
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americans
Su “A Night at the Movies” Coover continua col suo lavoro di distruzione e ricostruzione delle forme del senso. Su "Pricksongs and Descants" lo aveva fatto col codice delle fiabe, dei miti, delle origini della forma romanzo e lo faceva esibendo appieno le sue ispirazioni (Beckett, Ionesco, Cervantes, i classici greci e latini).

Su “A Night at the Movies” lo fa col cinema, cioè con l’ultima nata delle arti creatrici di senso e significato. In realtà Coover aveva già giocato con le forme audiovisi
Matt Sautman
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Coover's collection is highly experimental. I don't profess to understand everything that I read in this, but I can say that I am in awe of his opening two stories, "The Phantom of the Movie Palace" and "After Lazarus." All the stories in general capture some aspect of film- from its absurdity and immersion to its genres and violences, yet these two stories in particular speak to humanity's relationship with film and how narrative may emulate film techniques. Some of the satire here seems a bit ...more
Not too interested in most of the chapters. More interested in Charlie Chaplin and Casablanca stories.
Ana Esteban
No es mi estilo
Prooost Davis
Nov 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Reading "The Public Burning" and "The Origin of the Brunists" has made me Robert Coover's biggest fan, but I can't recommend "A Night at the Movies" unreservedly. It's a collection of short pieces which, as far as I can tell, are meant to give the reader the experience of being in a movie theater and watching several features, from the coming attractions to a cartoon to the main event. Even an intermission. Some of the stories are better than others; some of them were a chore to read. The last s ...more
Great concept -- Coover clearly revels in the old movie mythology. "You Must Remember This" is (fittingly) the most memorable for me, mostly because it riffs -- in a very sexualized Coover way -- on Casablanca, which, natch, is my favorite movie.
Daniel Gualtieri
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit uneven, like A Child Again (the only other Coover book I have read), but really beautiful overall. The high points (most of the stories in the book) tend to create or uncover a lovely sort of melancholy that hides behind the flashy surface of the history of film.
Erik Wyse
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Another shining example of the ambitious innovations of Coover. Aware of and challenging usual patterns of storytelling, Coover will take expectations and twist them, leading the reader down a rabbit hole of his own devising. And the ride is gloriously entertaining.
Jun 26, 2008 added it
Very smart book.
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Not Coover's best work but still damn good.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film, shorts, 2014-read
"what a strange and dizzying dream time is!"
Steve Marsella
Apr 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
Just couldn't get into it. Didn't finish.
Jul 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema, reread, coover
Reread: 2/14/10-2/19/10
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unsettling deconstruction of "Casablanca."
Mike Hetteix
rated it it was amazing
Dec 10, 2007
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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
“The superhero, his underwear bagging at the seat and knees, is just a country boy at heart, tutored to perceive all human action as good or bad, orderly or dynamic, and so doesn't know whether to shit or fly.” 8 likes
“...'Well, I think of you as a straight shooter, Sheriff, but one who can't stop lustin' after the goddamn ineffable.'
"She said that, hunh?"
"Shitfire, Sheriff, what'd you do?"
"Well, I shot her.”
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