Robert Coover’s very short story: ‘Going for a beer’

I find myself sitting at home on my own reading Robert Coover’s very short story ‘Going for a beer’ at about the same time that I began to think about reading it. In fact, I’ve finished it…

This short story is one of the best I’ve read for ages. It’s often said of the short story that it doesn’t allow for the kind of expansive and explored development of the lifetime of a character as the novel does. Whilst this might be true, there’s no reason why, even in a very compressed period of time, a life can’t be captured. That’s just what Coover has done here.

He finds himself sitting in the neighborhood bar drinking a beer at about the same time that he began to think about going there for one. In fact, he has finished it. Perhaps he’ll have a second one, he thinks, as he downs it and asks for a third. There is a young woman sitting not far from him who is not exactly good-looking but good-looking enough, and probably good in bed, as indeed she is. Did he finish his beer? Can’t remember. What really matters is: Did he enjoy his orgasm? Or even have one? This he is wondering on his way home through the foggy night streets from the young woman’s apartment…

Brilliantly inventive, its playful handling of time is a joy to read – and, like the life it describes and that which this life represents, is over too quickly, too.

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