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Book of the Week: Romance of the Thin Man and the Fat Lady by Robert Coover

The male narrator opens by acknowledging “many stories have been told, songs sung, about the Thin Man and the Fat Lady,” suggesting in addition that they are a metaphor for male and female relations. Despite the conventional nature of the duo, they stand for something larger. “We are all Thin Men. You are all Fat Ladies.”

In this telling, the Thin Man and the Fat Lady are circus freaks, each driven to try to change his or her condition to please the other. The Thin Man wants to put on muscle while the Fat Lady wants to lose weight. Yet their boss, the Ringmaster, demands they maintain their extremes. When the Thin Man starts gaining weight and the Fat Lady starts losing it, the Ringmaster threatens to take action against them.

This book contains some of Coover’s best short stories:

  1. Romance of the Thin Man and the Fat Lady

  2. The Babysitter

  3. A Pedestrian Accident


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