Robert Coover is a midwesterner who has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative of contemporary writers of fiction. Coover likes to experiment with an abundance of differing styles. The Origin of the Brunists (1966), his first novel, is a religious parable heavily loaded with symbolism and mythical parallels. It deals with the rise following an Appalachian coal-mine disaster of a sect of worshipers made up of fundamentalists and theosophists whose leader, Giovanni Bruno, is less a preacher than a silent enigma. The principal analogue is apparently meant to be the founding of the Christian religion, but Coover's extensive irony requires that he reverse many of the traditional features of the Christian legend. The Universal Baseball Association (1968), Coover's most accessible novel to date, is also dominated by religious symbolism. Over the years, J. Henry Waugh, a middle-aged bachelor and accountant, has developed an elaborately structured game, which he plays with dice. His game is based on the mathematical probabilities of baseball. Every evening Henry plays his game and maintains his extensive record books. J. Henry Waugh is a surrogate for God, and the participants in his imaginary baseball league seem almost to come to life, raising as they do age-old questions about fate and free will, success and failure, games and religions. Coover's Pricksongs and Descants (1969) is a collection of 20 short pieces and a theoretical "Prologo" in which the author states his belief that contemporary fiction should be based on familiar historical or mythical forms. Most of the stories in this volume, which was well received by critics, are based on biblical episodes or classical fairy tales retold in startling new ways. The Public Burning (1977) is based on the controversial trial of the Rosenbergs. With the exception of a novel, A Night at the Movies (1992), Coover's publications in recent years have consisted mainly of shorter works, written at various stages of his career, published in limited editions to appeal to collectors. Coover is one of the founders of the Electronic Literature Organization. In 1987 he was chosen as the winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story. Coover is indeed one of the foremost short story writers of the postmodern period, as exemplified by the "Seven Exemplary Fictions" contained in his 1969 book Pricksongs and Descants.