At the dawn of his career, John Barth's first novel, The Floating Opera (1967), helped mark the end of traditional storytelling and the beginning of postmodernist fiction. Half a century later, Barth returns to that primordial setting (the wandering showboat, the Maryland eastern shore) with a novel that takes him back to his enduring concerns of the tangled interplay of human beings mediated through the mystery of narrative and the love of language. Coming Soon!!! is a droll comedy, a skillful feat of storytelling technique and a meditation on why and how we human beings are impelled to tell one another stories.
The two major characters are the Novelist Emeritus and the Novelist Aspirant who are linked by their common interest in narrative (although through different media) and their connection with the fabulous vessel, The Original Floating Opera, known as TOFO. While the two compete to write the first "Y2K" novel, they also become unlikely and largely unwilling collaborators in crafting a production for TOFO's final season--one that must be completed and performed literally in the teeth of Hurricane Zulu, rapidly bearing down on Chesapeake Bay.
Barth's control of language has never been greater nor his sense of narrative more profound. Both The Floating Opera and Coming Soon!!! sail on waters that touch the marsh mud of human reality on one side and the heaven tree of human aspirations on the other--yet, thanks to John Barth's consummate narrative mastery, the two sides are finally, improbably yet completely and very satisfactorily linked.