||A nameless rider plods through the desert toward a dusty Western town shimmering on the horizon. In his latest novel, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Robert Coover has taken the familiar form of the Western and turned it inside out, attaining what THE NEW YORK TIMES has called "a blunt, profanity-laced existentialism that seems actually to improve on Sartre." The lonesome stranger reaches the town or rather, it reaches him and he becomes part of its archetypal struggles: gunfights, saloon brawls, bawdy houses, train robberies, and of course the choice between the saloon chanteuse and the sweet-faced schoolmistress whom he loves. Throughout, Robert Coover reanimates the Western epics of Zane Grey and Louis L' Amour, infusing them with the Beckettian echoes, unique comic energy, and exuberant prose that have made him one of the most influential figures in contemporary American literature. It is, as The Washington Post Book World put it, "a fast-forward, ribald vision of the American West, a free-for-all that slides from surreal to ridiculous like a circus-goer's grin through a fun-house mirror...a heady frisson, a salon entertainment, one helluva ride."