Paul Hoover, born in 1946 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a poet and editor. He currently works as Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, where he is also the editor for the literary magazine New American Writing. In 1980, he received an NEA Fellowship in poetry. In 1987, he received the Carl Sandburg Award for his collection, Idea.
Paul Hoover’s The Novel is a booklength poem written in response to the author’s experience of having his first novel, Saigon, Illinois (Vintage, 1988), published after a mere six months in the making. Hoover examines the privilege of the novelist from the poet’s point of view, asking in both astonishment and disappointment: why is the novelist at once the most lordly and common of authors? A mosaic in organization, the poem’s thirty parts mix, among others, Shakespeare and deconstructionist “shoptalk" with an account of Graceland when Elvis was alive and a gloss of the mass-market paperback of James M. Cain’s The Enchanted Isle, whose heroine Mandy appears in the poem as the fictive author’s lover. The Novel presents no dichotomy between pop culture and the intensely literary, resisting closure by replicating the counterpoint speed of obsessive TV channel-changing. "The closer the look one takes at a world/the greater the distance from which it looks back."