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1. Sourland: Stories
2. Faithless: Tales of Transgression
3. Them (Modern Library)
4. Wild Nights!: Stories About the
5. High Lonesome: New and Selected
6. On Boxing (P.S.)
7. Zombie: A Novel (P.S.)
8. Blonde: A Novel (P.S.)
9. Middle Age: A Romance
10. Black Water (Contemporary Fiction,
11. The Assignation
12. The Gravedigger's Daughter: A
13. Dear Husband,: Stories
14. The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates:
15. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl
16. The Falls: A Novel
17. Little Bird of Heaven: A Novel
18. Marya: A Life
19. Will You Always Love Me?: And
20. Zombie

1. Sourland: Stories
by Joyce Carol Oates
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2010-09-01)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$14.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061996521
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

A gripping and moving new collection of stories that reimagines the meaning of loss—through often unexpected and violent means.

Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore how the power of violence, loss, and grief shape both the psyche and the soul—shows us an author work-ing at the height of her powers.

With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of “ordinary” life. From a desperate man who dons a jack-o’-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship, to a “story of a stabbing” many times recounted in the life of a lonely girl; from a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father, to a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin; from a professor’s wife who finds herself tragically isolated at a party in her own house, to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation, each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oates’s trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic—the comming-ling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life—and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.

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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sourland
Joyce Carol Oates is totally amazing and I will read anything she writes. She is such a cut above the ordinary writer. In her short stories she really proves how amazing she is as it is difficult to tell a whole story as a short one...this lady can do it everytime.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Hurt of Relationships
The amputee seems to be the key to these stories which are beautifully sad and full of pain. The various missing parts of a body are death that won't stay dead. The scream of pain in a hospital, resulting in a beating for no particular reason other than it's Tuesday and it's 3:30, so why not? The haunting cover photograph and the Kindle building of the interior photograph is ghost like. The stories are about being torn. A child, a recent widow, a love of horror, all of us made of goodbyes. She reaches into your soul and makes you realize the delicate birth of fragility. Suddenly, in her words, you are carrying alone, or old, as if they are the result of a kind of pregnancy. In describing a woman's leg stumps, we see a beauty in the feel and the look closeup. And if everybody might as well be Daddy, and if a formerly deformed girl has a forever deformed mother, then we hide with the boy and never ever let anyone find us. Or we run through Sourland, and we are alone. And we cry. We finish the book and we know more about ourselves, than is comfortable. She gives us a sense of our destiny and what we've lost in our lives. And as she grounds us to dust, she shows us the miracle of strength. Read her. It takes courage. It's worth it. The poetry of our dark knights. The child is no child. The girl holding her mother together, a comforting dream of a father, as he draws his daughter as a sickly child, needful perceptions to forsake the cruelty.

A Pleasant Hill at the end of Summertime, a chapbook of creeping horror


5-0 out of 5 stars down side of relationships
Sourland is a super anthology that focuses on the down side of relationships with the typical Joyce Carol Oates' themes of violence and loss leading to psychological traumas.This makes for a strong insightful collection with no losers.In "Pumpkin-Head", "Sourland," and "Probate" lonely susceptible widows having recently lost their protective mates and encounter an ugly new world order when males use them or the bureaucracy abuses them.In "Bonobo Momma", Ms. Oates turns upside down her usual lethal male when a rapacious former model is the nasty player.In haunting "Daddy Lost", mommy puts people to sleep at the medical clinic while daddy stays home after being downsized to watch over frightened little Tod.In "Honor Code", she knows her life is before and after cousin Sonny or more descriptive before and after manslaughter.Though printed in a variety of magazines in similar form, with these sixteen short stories, Ms. Oates provides a profound look at the dark side of relationships with beasts feasting and "Beating" on the vulnerable.

Harriet Klausner
... Read more

2. Faithless: Tales of Transgression
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 400 Pages (2002-06-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002HJ3G4E
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In this collection of twenty-one unforgettable stories, Joyce Carol Oates explores the mysterious private lives of men and women with vivid, unsparing precision and sympathy. By turns interlocutor and interpreter, magician and realist, she dissects the psyches of ordinary people and their potential for good and evil with chilling understatement and lasting power.

Amazon.com Review
Penzler Pick, March2001: I guess it's no secret that I regard Joyce Carol Oates as one of the great living American writers, both of mystery-crime-suspense fiction andof virtually every other form invented. I previously reviewedBlonde, which went on to be nominated for a National Book Award, andit's my joy to be able to recommend Faithless: Tales ofTransgression, the stories within which are about as good as the shortstory gets. (Full disclosure here, with the admission that I might be atrifle prejudiced in favor of this volume. It is dedicated to AliceTurner, the former fiction editor of Playboy, and to me--largely, I reckon,because several of these stories were written especially for severalanthologies of which I was the editor.)

There are 24 stories in this generous volume and while some inevitablylinger longer in the memory than others, there is not a dull spot in itsnearly 400 pages. The title story is a haunting tale of the disappearanceof a woman as recalled by her two daughters, grown now. The ending isutterly expected but, nevertheless, comes as a shock. "The Vampire" is notat all a horror story, at least not in the sense that it involves in anyway elements of the supernatural, but has a growing sense of pure terror asthe reader comes to see the way in which one person can absorb all the lifeout of another.

In "The High School Sweetheart: A Mystery," a famous mystery writer reads aspeech as he accepts the presidency of the most prestigious of all mysteryorganizations. The speech is delivered as a piece of fiction that appearsto be a confession of a horrific crime committed during his teen yearswhile besotted with a girl two years older than he. When the speech ends,the audience cannot imagine applauding because the story seems so true. Isit?

Once again, the incomparable Joyce Carol Oates has produced a compellingand important volume for the shelves of anyone who cares aboutdistinguished suspense fiction. --Otto Penzler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Dark Short Stories
This collection of short stories was surprisingly dark - well-written, but quite dark. Short stories are really not my favorite thing to read, and this was unfortunately no exception. Some of the stories were more engrossing than others - but those were frustrating, too because they left me wanting more... I guess it is the format that really disappointed me the most. I should probably stop trying out short story collections - the only one that hasn't been a disappointment was _Nocturnes_.

4-0 out of 5 stars Faithless
I read it but it is not Joyce C. Oates best work. It is a good one to compare an contrast with in a formum sitting.

5-0 out of 5 stars spellbound
This book offers some of Oates' finest short stories.If you are an Oates fan you must purchase this book and if you want to become one you also have to buy that book.
I must confess I like her short stories best, they explore the depths of the human mind and soul leaving you wonder how you would have acted in a certain situation.The books are often too complex and she tends to lose focus but not so with her short stories.You can devour them at once or take your time and eat one at a time;-)

5-0 out of 5 stars There is no stopping this amazing author!
Joyce Carol Oates is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her work is amazing and with prose so beautiful that it is at times lyrical. I have loved all of her short story collections and marvel at the fact that am all the more impressed every time I pick up a new Oates book. Faithless: Tales of Transgression isn't an exception. This amazing short story collection covers a vast variety of subjects that speak to you and move you to the core. Some are dark and others are downright shocking, but they are always memorable. My favorites are "Ugly," "Physical," "Secret, Silent," "The Vampire," "A Manhattan Romance," "We Were Worried About You," and "Faithless." Here you will find stories centered on self-esteem, relationships gone awry and even murder mysteries (I should add that the story "The Vampire" isn't centered on the paranormal, but it is a quite impressive and somewhat disarming tale that ought to be read). There is something for every reader in this collection. I for one have fallen in love Oates's keen storytelling all over again. I cannot recommend Faithless enough.

1-0 out of 5 stars Bleak and bleaker
The stories are bleak and depressing and should be sold with a warning label.I came away from reading the book feeling sorry for Ms. Oates for her miserable perceptions on life. ... Read more

3. Them (Modern Library)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 576 Pages (2006-09-12)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.42
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345484401
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. As powerful and relevant today as it on its initial publication, them chronicles the tumultuous lives of a family living on the edge of ruin in the Detroit slums, from the 1930s to the 1967 race riots. Praised by The Nation for her “potent, life-gripping imagination,” Oates traces the aspirations and struggles of Loretta Wendall, a dreamy young mother who is filled with regret by the age of sixteen, and the subsequent destinies of her children, Maureen and Jules, who must fight to survive in a world of violence and danger.

Winner of the National Book Award, them is an enthralling novel about love, class, race, and the inhumanity of urban life. It is, raves The New York Times, “a superbly accomplished vision.”

Them is the third novel in the Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and Wonderland, are also available from the Modern Library. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

2-0 out of 5 stars Oh man!
This busted in half when I opened it! Wonderful novel, though. Wonderfully written novel, though. I bought a new one as to not read the busted in half one. I read all of the new one.

5-0 out of 5 stars oates, them
The reviewers above miss a central point in this, her greatest novel.How can we give our individual lives and the society about us structure? Can we assume life has a strucutre that will make itself apparent to us in time?And what of the people who seek to destroy social order, who revel in chaos?

5-0 out of 5 stars Acute exposure of fragility beneath hard, shielding façades
Apathy is a weapon. Not speaking about their disappointments - as working class kids traditionally aren't supposed to do - made the victims of silence terribly alone and isolated. As Maureen and Jules grow up they learn to use apathy themselves as a weapon with which they can obliterate the outside world, disconnect themselves from all that makes the world ugly and incomprehensible. Alienation nearly kills the Children of Silence when they're forced to conform and to submit to performing tedious, repetitious routines in school day in, day out, taught not to imagine a different world but to accept this one, this supposedly concrete and unchangeable reality of poverty.

Apathy is a way to disconnect, to do away with an imposed reality and an excruciatingly slow moving time. They use the same weapon that once was used on them, and they begin to understand why their parents avoided intimacy and connection on an emotional level. Expressing feelings and the intimacy and connection that follows such expression makes shared dreams arise. And to share dreams is dangerous, because the world tears them down, crushes dreams and makes Maureen want to die in the powerlessness and futility of it all. The world indeed is a vampire sent to drain (1). As Jules and Maureen themselves are betrayed and see what apathy can do to the hopeful, to those who wish nothing more than to have real, authentic love, they realize they aren't innocent themselves and have no one to blame. If no one taught them to be true to a higher ideal, if they have no faith and no moral imperative to live up to, then how can they expect the ones they love not to hurt them? And, as the weapon backfires on them, they realize that they too are victims and that they have become as heartless as their parents.

As they meet apathy now, young adults, Jules searching for guidance and rescue, Maureen seeking escape and refuge in passive serfdom of middle class life going nowhere fast, they struggle to cope with the utter silence and the void of feelings. Jules refuses to make this his inescapable destiny and become as lost and broken as their parents, while Maureen denounces and runs away from the thought of her family and past. She withers in denial (2). She stares into a mirror and sees nothing staring back at her and then she knows what they have done to her and what she in turn will do to her children if she doesn't somehow break the curse.

Jules and Maureen feel the pain of not having their expectations met and know that their suffering is real but don't know how to communicate it because of their parents and their own submission to silence. And so they pray for someone to open up and be vulnerable, to bare their inmost desires and dreams. The Children of Silence scream to tear a hole in the wall separating them from truth and authenticity. They indeed wish for someone to speak the truth back to them and be everything they wished themselves to be but can't be by themselves, so they scream Come save me from the awful sound of nothing (3).

This review used lines from songs (1. Bullet with butterfly wings, 2. Disarm, 3. Quiet) written by Billy Corgan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Realism stretched like putty
Perhaps the greatest trick which Oates performs in Them is her ability to take emotions which human beings have been examining for centuries, like love, and pull them apart, elongate them to such an extent that they are barely recognizable from their pedestrian definitions.There is an excruciating, unrelenting quality to Them, and it is found in this inscrutable ability to take the banal and make it rich, painful, grotesque.This novel of great pain laid bare is not so much an exercise in exposing human universals, but showing how distressingly small human concerns are;in the great sweep of events little people remain little, no matter how large their emotions.

5-0 out of 5 stars The only kind of fiction that is real
As writer Joyce Carol Oates states in the introduction of her "them", this book is `the only kind of fiction that is real'. The gimmick in this book is that she tells the story as if it were reality. According to her early note, the narrative is based on some letters she received from a former student. This so-called student wasn't a good writer, but she thought her story worthy telling therefore her teacher assumed the task.

The student is Maureen Wendal, one of `them'. The narrative is about her and her mother, Loretta, and her older brother Jules. Oates follows a couple of years in the lives of these people. In their lives there are many ingredients that could turn the novel into a soap opera -- rape, love, lies, prostitution --, but this writer does not deals with the cheap prose. Her sentences are crafted, and her characters thoroughly developed, making all of them very real.

Political and historic background lend the book more relevance. The famous Detroit riots in the middle 60's are part of these lives. Oates seems to be interested in the subtle relationship between reality and fiction. She borrows `real' lives to construct fiction that has as basis real facts that change the lives of her characters.

As she points out in her introduction, nothing in the novel was exaggerated in order to increase the drama. Not matter if her work is real or not -- this is not her point, after all -- the fact is that she wrote an incredibly good book populated with fictional characters that read like real. And this is more than any reader can long for.
... Read more

4. Wild Nights!: Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway
by Joyce Carol Oates
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$6.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003156CNA
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain"), Henry James, Ernest Hemingway—Joyce Carol Oates evokes each of these American literary icons in her newest work of prose fiction, poignantly and audaciously reinventing the climactic events of their lives. In subtly nuanced language suggestive of each of these writers, Oates explores the mysterious regions of the unknowable self that is "genius"—for Edgar Allan Poe, a belated encounter with bizarre life‑forms utterly alien to the poet's exalted Romantic aesthetics; for Emily Dickinson, resurrected in the twenty-first century in a "distilled" state, a belated encounter with blundering humanity and brute passion of a kind excluded from the poet's verse; for the elderly, renowned Samuel Clemens, a belated encounter with impassioned innocence, in the form of "the little girl who loves you"; for Henry James, an aging volunteer in a London hospital during World War I, a belated encounter with the physicality of desire and the raw yearning of love long absent from the master's fiction; and, for Ernest Hemingway, the most tragic of these figures, a belated encounter with the "profound mysteries of the world outside him, and the profound mysteries of the world inside him."

Wild Nights! is Joyce Carol Oates's most original and haunting work of the imagination, a writer's memoirist work in the form of fiction.

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Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars impressive recreation of the lives of five authors
I ended up liking this book much more than I expected to.It is a compilation of five short stories.Each recreates the last days of a famous author, both using little-known facts from their lives as a basis for the stories and adopting their literary styles to tell the tale.The result is a sometimes dark, but captivating and intriguing look into the lives and psyches of the literary greats.

The skill it takes to emulate the masters in this way and the uniqueness of the idea gave me a lot of respect for Oates.I will be seeking out more of her work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oates has made an immense contribution to American literature
It's doubtful that any writer other than Joyce Carol Oates would dare tackle the task she's set for herself in this, her 21st short story collection. Not only has she vividly imagined the last days of a handful of American literary icons, she has done so while channeling the voices of those writers in these five haunting tales. WILD NIGHTS! is a stylish and original piece of literary craftsmanship that works both as a collection of effective stories and as a literary treat for those of a more scholarly bent.

Oates leads off the collection with "Poe Posthumous; or, the Light-House," a story suggested by a single-page manuscript entitled "The Light-House" that was found among Edgar Allan Poe's papers after his death. The Poe of this story has agreed to spend six months without human companionship tending the lighthouse at Viña de Mar, off the Chilean coast, as part of a scientific experiment on "aloneness." Accompanied only by his dog Mercury, Poe confesses early in the story that he is "one of those individuals of a somewhat fantastical & nervous disposition, who entertains worries where there are none...yet who does not sufficiently worry of what is." The laconic, fairly mundane diary entries that open the story deteriorate when Mercury meets a tragic end, and soon reveal a mind that's beginning to crumble. When Poe imagines he's sharing the island with a herd of mutant creatures, his descent into madness is complete. It's a story as chilling as any Poe horror tale.

"EDickinsonRepliluxe" is the only one of the pieces that is not set in the author-subject's times. Middle-aged suburbanites Madelyn and Harold Krim have purchased a "Repliluxe" of Emily Dickinson, a "brilliantly rendered manikin empowered by a computer program that is the distillation of the original individual." Soon after "Emily" arrives at the Krims' home, she takes on the duties of their servant, while writing on little pieces of paper she stuffs into her apron pocket. Madelyn begins to write poetry of her own, afflicted with what her husband derisively calls the "scribbling disease." As the bond between Madelyn and Emily grows stronger, Harold's disdain for the creature culminates in a startling and violent climax to the story.

Mark Twain receives some rough treatment at Oates's hands in "Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish 1906." He is revealed as a 70-year-old curmudgeon, the line between whose literary and real identities has blurred, with an unnatural fondness for adolescent girls he calls his "Angelfish." Twain encounters a young girl named Madelyn Avery at one of his performances and commences a correspondence with her that becomes increasingly affectionate and inappropriate, ultimately leading to meetings at a "secret place" in New York's Central Park. But when he discovers that the object of his affection is 16 years old, two years older than he had imagined, he cuts her off with a cruelty that has tragic consequences.

The most touching story in the collection is "The Master at St. Bartholomew's Hospital 1914-1916." In it, an ailing Henry James, "The Master," volunteers at a London hospital to care for British soldiers wounded in World War I. When the sadistic Nurse Supervisor Edwards discovers that James has become attracted to a Lieutenant Scudder who has been severely wounded in a grenade attack, losing his leg among his other injuries, she subjects the author to a gruesome penance before he is permitted to return to Ward Six, where Scudder is hospitalized. The story's ambiguous closing pages, when the dying James and the young soldier embark together on an ocean cruise, are both tender and moving.

"Papa at Ketchum 1961" brings the collection to a grim close. Narrated in Hemingwayesque prose, it is a stark account of the writer's musings as he contemplates the suicide he accomplished on July 2, 1961. The story reveals a physically wrecked man suffering from a titanic case of writer's block --- "Mornings when work does not come are long mornings" --- as his mind ranges agonizingly over his life and literary career. The glimpses into "Papa's" psyche, sinking ever deeper into depression and paranoia, are unromantic and disturbing.

Joyce Carol Oates has made an immense contribution to American literature, and we can only hope that her "last days" are far in the future. These five tales further demonstrate why she is worthy of being regarded alongside some of our most admired literary talents.

3-0 out of 5 stars versatility
Personally I didn't feel connected with the stories as I normally do with the author's other books, but I must say that I was impressed by her versatility again.All five stories are so different and her imagination has no limits.

3-0 out of 5 stars Necropsy postmortem examination
I like Oates as a writer, I often find her interesting. I don't think it's necessarily effective to go for the jugular quite as much as she does (that tendency to inspire comments like 'unflinching', 'not scared to...' in reviews...), but okay. On this occasion I could sense Oates' interest and imagine her poring over her subjects - their faces, their styles, the mental landscapes they inhabited, and 'Wild Nights' is a very self-assured piece of work (in the world of letters you have to earn the right to take on a project this ambitious).But by the end it felt like watching a surgeon saw off the tops of some illustrious heads to poke around in the goo, as though Oates had gone to considerable effort trying to figure out what made her fellow writers tick, without understanding what made them human.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wild Nights is a fictional imagining of the last days of five seminal American literary voices by the eminent Joyce Carol Oates
Wild Nights (the phrase is borrowed from a poem by Emily Dickinson) is a collection of five short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. The prolific Princeton professor imagines the final days of five great American writers. Oates has a fecundly wicked imagination displaying her literary acumen as she examines:
Edgar Allan Poe-Oates places him on a remote island south of South America where his job is to tend a lighthouse. In this macabre tale reminiscent of something which Poe might have produced he becomes mad, copulates with a weird one eyed sea creature and laments his loneliness. The tale is written in diary form with entries being inscribed by the fictional Poe. The tale is grotesque and unpleasant.
Emily Dickinson: An upper middle class couple buy a clone-like computerized doll of Dickinson. The computerized device acts like the reclusive Emily staying hin her room, baking bread, tending flowers and placing hastily scribbled poems in her apron pocket. When her owner attempts to rape the sexless robot the wife and Emily bond in rebellious acts. Weird but fascinating worthy of a Twilight Zone episode. The tale will also appeal to feminist in its depiction of male domination and brutality manifested in the stupid male owner's rape of the doll.
Mark Twain: He is portrayed as Captain Admiral Twain whose aquafish (prepubescent girls who are virgins and under 16) cavort at parties and secret assignations in Central Park all to the dismay of his scornful daughter Clara. Twain was disillusioned, in poor health and bitter against the world when he died in 1910. He had been neglected by his father,found American imperialism revolting and was an atheist. His interest in young girls was creepy. Twain is not the belovedly irascible old coot telling tall tales of boyhood most Americans picture him as being. Instead he was a trenchant social and political critic who had been broken by the deaths of his daughter and wife.
Henry James-The dullest of the stories finds the prudish James working at St. Bartholemew's Hospital for wounded World War I soldiers in London. James gets an understanding of human pain and suffering. As a homosexual he is attracted to a few of the men whom he tends.
Ernest Hemingway: My favorite among these tales. Papa Hemingway was a burnt-out, sexually impotent, mentally disturbed man by the time he killed himself with a shotgun in Ketchum, Idaho in 1961. Hemingway hated his mother; his father had also committed suicide. A sad final chapter for a great American stylist. Hemingway was a narcisstic man whose ego was massive; disdain for women profound and hatred of his family gargantuan. He cared only for himself and the written word of his art.
These stories will not be everyone's cup of tea. It helps the reader to have some background understanding of the works and career of each artist who is profiled. I enjoyed them and appreciated Oates ability to write in the style of the writer she is chronicling in her fiction. ... Read more

5. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 688 Pages (2007-06-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$6.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060501200
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

No other writer can match the impressive oeuvre of Joyce Carol Oates. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006 gathers short fiction from the acclaimed author's seminal collections and includes eleven new tales that further demonstrate the breathtaking artistry and striking originality of an incomparable talent who "has imbued the American short story with an edgy vitality and raw social surfaces" (Chicago Tribune).

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

1-0 out of 5 stars Toxic Stories
I could get less than half way through the book. The stories were uniformly depressing, and in some cases felt toxic, with violence, cruelty and insanity. Maybe later in the book they got better, but I just couldn't go that far. The good news is that she is an excellent writer, with fine descriptive power, but the subject matter never varied from depressing. Read this book if you want to have a real "downer", done with style.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful strangness
I bought this book having previously read, "Where are you going, Where have you Been? And more recently *BD*11 1 87 in the Atlantic,which blew me away. So I bought High Lonesome for further thrills and I am not disappointed. I really enjoyed "The Lady with the Pet Dog" This story had such subtle genius that it wheedled into my subconscious and I had to finish it by the second sitting."Fat Man My Love" is a grim and starkly original tale that takes courage to get through but it's worth it. In fact all of Oats' tales are a little risky because each character exposes our own weaknesses so well.

I did not give it a fifth star because the physical characteristics of the book, paper, cover, and the texture seems pulpy, cheap and prone to yellowing.

Other than that, an outstanding product.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
I'm only about halfway through this book right now but I highly recommend it for anyone who likes Joyce Carol Oates or just a good short story.I've been a reader of hers for a few years now and it's nice to see how her writing has changed through each decade.I enjoy the stretches she takes in her stories and the risks she takes...I always seem to find a surprise at the end of everything she writes. This book definitely takes a while to get through...not a quick weekend read but enjoyable nonetheless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Clearly a wordsmith worth her salt
This collection merely offers a peek at the tip of the iceberg that is Oates' massive talent... Despite spanning four decades, Oates tells us in the afterword that she had to leave out many of her defining works like the miniature narratives and gothic/mystery stories.

She's brilliant at crafting characters who are just short of likeable, and yet you feel drawn in enough to want to know what happens to them.

Her female protagonists especially, seem to invite some of the catastrophes that happen to them, and there's that sense of inevitable disaster even as she lays out the path leading to their destruction, either by a seemingly harmless flirtation, or vain indulgence in (unwanted?) attention.

A sense of unease underlies most of these stories, and you go away from them wishing the characters could have made better choices. But perhaps this mirrors real life and makes her stories more painfully realistic. Painting pretty pictures was never Oates' intention to begin with...

5-0 out of 5 stars Read this as your introduction
If you've never read Oates- read this for your introduction.It is beautiful and the stories seem prefectly picked.I loved how you can see her progression as an author and also the different paths she's followed in her fiction.Worth it's wait in gold- an then some. ... Read more

6. On Boxing (P.S.)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 304 Pages (2006-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$6.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060874503
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

A reissue of bestselling, award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates' classic collection of essays on boxing.

Amazon.com Review
Yes, the same Joyce Carol Oates who packs one of the mostlethal punches in American literature also happens to be an astuteobserver of the sweet science. Oates filters her knockout collectionof essays through multifaceted prisms of art, history, sexuality, andpolitics to directly confront and explore boxing's physical andcommercial brutality, but also the sense of human struggle andsurvival that's at boxing's purest core. "In the boxingring," she writes, "man is in extremis, performing anatavistic rite ... for the mysterious solace of those who canparticipate only vicariously in such drama: the drama of life in theflesh. Boxing has become America's tragic theater." And from herringside perspective, Oates, a true heavyweight of letters, analyzesthe performances just brilliantly. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars Oates in the ring
Oates works out her essay style with boxing. Absent blood and bruises she has something to offer

3-0 out of 5 stars On Boxing (P.S)
This book deals mostly with why boxers compete and what draws the public to the spectacle. Has some excellent historical moments and some great insight.As a long time boxing fan the book can however get somewhat boring. This book has always received rave reviews, the book is very well written,but I was a little disappointed overall. About halfway through I started losing interest.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Stand Alone Essays
These are great stand alone essays but they don't compile very well into a cohesive singular book because the background information becomes repetitive. Marciano's record, integrating fights, boxing's place among the most dangerous sports, and so on, while all interesting and integral to the individual essays at hand, become tedious, especially after the third time, should the reader decide to tackle the book in one fell swoop. The brevity of the book suggests well-edited succinct writing, but, unfortunately, as the essays run together quickly the reader finds himself thinking, `Didn't I just read that a few minutes ago?' I still think it's important to have Oates' boxing essays compiled together. However, it may be a helpful suggestion for some readers to spread out the reading of these essays if this kind of repetition annoys you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joyce Oates Takes on the Sweet Science
Like a previous reviewer, I was amazed at Joyce's understanding of the fight game. She graphically describes the naked loneliness that a fighter feels as they take off their robe in the ring, the feeling that in spite of recent losses, they will still emerge triumphant as they take on the younger lions in the division. Oates discusses both the abhorrent features of two fighters trying to destroy each other and the almost homoerotic like way the fighters hold on to each other in the clinches and embrace fondly at the end of the match. Not sure if I ever thought of boxing as homoerotic art, but Oates makes it sound plausible.

Oates also discusses the rise of Mike Tyson, and his desire to punch Jesse Ferguson's nose into his brain. She also underscores how terrible judging can mar an otherwise compelling boxing match (Holmes-Spinks II as an example).

The author feels that Muhammad Ali in his prime was one of if not the greatest fighter of all time. She pulls not punches, though, in describing Ali's early racist, segregationist comments.

There is also a chapter about the great Jack Johnson and how he taunted opponents in the ring, dated (and married) white women, and lived the way he wanted to live, and was revered and reviled by many.

The book is a bit dated, and there are occasional misspellings of fighters' names (Pernell Whitaker, not Pernell Whittaker), but the insight into the game is timeless and priceless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Whatever Oates sets her mind to, shoe does well.
Joyce Carol Oates, On Boxing (Doubleday, 1987)

The blurbs on the back of this book gush. A lot of very talented, very famous writers were quite enamored with Joyce Carol Oates' meditation on boxing, and they should have been. This is not only Oates writing with her best critical eye, but it's also Oates at her most approachable; this is easily as readable as any of her fiction, and more so than a good portion of it. She responds to the art of pugilism both, and often simultaneously, with a critical and an emotional eye. It's quite a nice little book, and as someone who knows nothing about boxing myself, I can attest that Oates' writing is not just for the aficionado; if you're old enough to remember the names Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns, you'll find this interesting and often enlightening. Another solid entry in the Oates canon. **** ... Read more

7. Zombie: A Novel (P.S.)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 192 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$5.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061778915
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Meet Quentin P.

He is a problem for his professor father and his loving mother, though of course they do not believe the charge (sexual molestation of a minor) that got him in that bit of trouble.

He is a challenge for his court-appointed psychiatrist, who nonetheless is encouraged by the increasingly affirmative quality of his dreams and his openness in discussing them.

He is a thoroughly sweet young man for his wealthy grandmother, who gives him more and more, and can deny him less and less.

He is the most believable and thoroughly terrifying sexual psychopath and killer ever to be brought to life in fiction, as Joyce Carol Oates achieves her boldest and most brilliant triumph yet—a dazzling work of art that extends the borders of the novel into the darkest heart of truth.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great read!
This was one of the best ive read, very bizzare but fun and exciting. It is hard to put down once you have started it! Joyce Carol Oates has a disturbing imagination but is creative and suspensful all the same. I have read quite of few of her other novels, and much like the others, this one had me from the first few paragraphs and i was hooked!

3-0 out of 5 stars Ripped from the headlines...and gory. But not essential Oates.
Hi, readers--

If you've read Joyce Carol Oates before, you know that she's got a solid grasp on the darkness inside all of us. Her novel _Zombie_ delves deep into the human psyche by giving us her take on what it's like inside the mind of an infamous serial killer: Jeffrey Dahmer.

"Zombie" is a reference to Dahmer's practice of drilling into the skulls of his victims, to keep their bodies warm, alive, and receptive, but their minds blank and submissive. In another reading of the title, in Oates' clinical, yet gruesome presentation of the details through the psychotic 1st person narrator, Quentin, someone with a complete lack of empathy is clearly a zombie himself.

Although the novel is a page-turning character study, it's not among Oates' strongest, as the character doesn't have much room to grow or change. By the end of the novel, the reader is left feeling that throughout the novel, he/she has been only observing like a scientist, not engaging emotionally with a work of literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars CREEPY, SCARY, UNSETTLING

I am a fan of JCO; always have been and always will be.She has so many books and this reader has decided to read as many as I possibly can.When I saw ZOMBIE on the library shelf I decided to check it out as it was a smaller novel.

Readers meet one Quentin P, 30-something, who is a serial killer.Quentin has a family who loves him; in fact, his parents will and do anything to protect Quentin and help him through his daily struggles.Quentin has run ins with the law, but dad knows people in high places who continually let Quentin slide through the system.Little does his loving family realize what a monster Quentin is.

Quentin tells his frightening story in the first person.His dream is to create a zombie to call his very own.He studies medical procedures and unfortunately tries to create his dream zombie.Quentin takes us through his upsetting life victim by victim, all the while appearing to trying SO hard to be an upstanding citizen, even though he is a little strange and just plain misunderstood.Poor Quentin!

And what a novel.I must say I was appalled, disgusted, upset, scared, and totally creeped out.Why did I keep reading this very unnerving book?Simply because of JCO's superb writing skills.

I don't think I can/should recommend this book to just anyone -- it is very shocking and detailed.It is very graphic and deals with many deranged schemes.It really alarmed me and I'm not lying when I say I went back around the house and made sure everything was secured.This book is good, but more than likely for a targeted audience.

Why five stars for a book that has quite upset me?Because Oates has the gift of magical writing power and can make a book in the genre a fantastic read.

Thank you.


1-0 out of 5 stars Just plain bad
I have nothing positive to say about this Oats novel.I have enjoyed JCO in the past and this description captivated me.I did not like it from a story telling perspective, from a character development perspective or from the content.Forgive me for not getting too specific - I don't even want to re-think about the story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nightmaric. Simply Nightmaric!
I came across this one a few (well more than a few) years ago while I was working in a public library.I read the back cover and thought "Oh, no Joyce!Not another story about rape/murder!"But Zombie caries an intriging twist...

It deals with psychology.The mental malfunction of a madman.And how (sadly) so many criminals can fall through the cracks and meander through society...only to hurt others again.

We get a horrifying look into the mentality of Quentin P.A sociopath who preys upon young boys.We get to hear him ramble and rant, gloat whenever he thinks he has others fooled.

It's truly disturbing...even anger evoking in parts.

Definitely better than Rape: A love story. ... Read more

8. Blonde: A Novel (P.S.)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 752 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$5.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061774359
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this ambitious book, Joyce Carol Oates boldly reimagines the inner, poetic, and spiritual life of Norma Jeane Baker—the child, the woman, the fated celebrity and idolized blonde the world came to know as Marilyn Monroe. In a voice startling, intimate, and rich, Norma Jeane tells her own story, that of an emblematic American artist—intensely conflicted and driven—who has lost her way. A powerful portrait of Hollywood's myth and an extraordinary woman's heartbreaking reality, Blonde is a sweeping epic that pays tribute to the elusive magic and devastation behind the creation of the great twentieth-century American star.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Applause! Standing Ovation! Whistle!
I come to you PURE.A reader of Joyce Carol Oates, but never a reader of any biography pertaining to Marilyn Monroe.

I enjoy reading a book review that gets to the heart of the matter.The heart of Joyce Carol Oate's marvelous novel is Norma Jeane Baker and the wonderful illusion that she created for all to enjoy, Marilyn Monroe.If you're like me and never read a biography on the illustrious Marilyn Monroe, start with this novel.The author does an amazing job of making it appear factual and breathing life into both Norma Jeane and her good friend Marilyn.

JCO starts with a BANG! beginning when Norma Jeane was a little girl in the care of her grandmother, Della. Poor Norma Jeane is whisked away from Della by her mother, Gladys, then her life sort of goes to pieces.Gladys and Norma shared a few good times or at least that's how Norma Jeane tries to keep to the story so that she can survive her life but eventually Norma ends up in the orphanage and then at around age 12 or so, becomes a foster child of a pathetic couple, only then to find herself a child bride and then the novel really takes off!All that I've said is far condensed; JCO does a much better job of filling you in on the details, and there are many!

I was sad, fascinated and impressed by Norma Jeane's talents and I'm not talking about the gifts she was naturally blessed with, though she was quite blessed and certainly used it all to her advantage.What really stood out in the book was that Norma Jeane was intelligent, shrewd, witty, a genius in her own right, yet, she couldn't see it.She knew it lived inside of her but she didn't believe that other people knew it, so tormented was she.Becoming Marilyn Monroe could be such a tough job, a job that Norma wanted to abandon, but it would be hard to fight the force that she, herself had masterminded.Many times, Norma Jeane Baker would lose herself and live Marilyn's life when the film wasn't rolling.She'd self-medicate and drink and pop more pills and do acts that were expected of Marilyn that even Marilyn didn't have to do, but such the poeple pleaser was Marilyn, she'd do the deeds anyway, no matter how self-destructive.My head would spin at times and I felt that I was popping pills, probably JCO's intention.Sometimes, I became Norma's husbands (Bucky, Ex-Athlete and Playwright) and I was exasperated with her self-loathing and neediness, not thinking, but then thinking, hey, this woman has a problem.

Other times, I became her co-stars and wanted to quit the films because I just couldn't take Marilyn or Norma Jeane's self-indulgences, her sickness!Despite it all, I continued to turn those pages.I was committed to Norma's and Marilyn's world, JCO's intention, I'm sure.Then, I thought:Where is JCO's National Book Award for this exceptional piece of work that must have made her half crazy to write.Where was the award?I had to research who won that year, making a promise to read the winner and find out WHY JCO did not get the prize for this novel, that to date, as far as I'm concerned, is her masterpiece.

Thanks to JCO, I've viewed many a Marilyn Monroe movie and I've got a couple of biographies lined up- but I thank her for sharing the secret.When I watch Marilyn Monroe, I smile, knowing that I'm really watching Norma Jeane, the Creator. ... Read more

9. Middle Age: A Romance
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 480 Pages (2002-10-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.66
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002KE480W
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In Salthill-on-Hudson, a half-hour train ride from Manhattan, everyone is rich, beautiful, and -- though they look much younger -- middle-aged. But when Adam Berendt, a charismatic, mysterious sculptor, dies suddenly in a brash act of heroism, shock waves rock the town. But who was Adam Berendt? Was he in fact a hero, or someone more flawed and human? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Deep book about middle age for the middle aged.
I finished this book last night. It took me about 8 days. Whew! It' still got my head swirling.There is a lot to discuss in this book. Many, many insights, many many viewpoints.And such strong, clear writing.JCO writes so tightly, so clearly.There are no tricky games, no innovations in the novel. Instead, JCO sticks to strong character description and development.And it works, wonderfully.I've read Faulkner, Joyce, Dostoyevsky, and a lot of philosophy.JCO isn't try to re-create the novel. She just looks at people, and very clearly, writes about them.She's excellent at her craft, so she makes clear writing seem natural.The economically successful, middle aged people in this book are thrown into chaos as major change enters their lives. The children are gone or become independent teenage thinkers, rejecting their parents.Mother's side with children against the husband, children are used (consciously) as objects in the dying relationship.
The natural energy of these middle aged people is gone, along with their youthful looks and confidence.The men make a lot of money, but they sacrificed (or were incapable of) having strong relationships with their children in order to make all that money.The women start to dominate in the couples lives, bored with the men who have provided so much materially.The women are constantly obsessed with their spouses' pathetic personalities. All spouses take their partner for granted, or despise them outright. People desire what they don't possess, and have little interest for what they do possess.The men aren't victims though. No one is a victim in this book.Each character is the cause of their own misery (and their is a lot of misery described).Many of them don't even know what caused such events to swirl out of control.
Students of zen will appreciate the study of change, and the blind, flailing attempts to counteract change.Men depend on women, women thrill to be desired by men of money, and no one is content.The circle turns and turns and turns.
This book contains 8 fascinating, deep, penetrating psychological studies of each of the characters.JCO seems to write more in the tradition of Freud's "Dora" than in Joyce's "Ulysses".Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Will the real Adam Berendt please stand up
Most books only have a few players whose characters were developed in the course of the story. "Middle Age" is really a character fest of sorts, where Oates explored all the players in an affluent social circle of the NY suburb of Salthill after the death of someone in their circle, Adam Berendt. The book starts innocently enough, with the death of Berendt, before each character realized that he/she never really knew him in life despite loving or being in love with him. Each character then delves into Berendt's "real" past or history in his/her own way. However the characters choose to do this, they still end up not knowing anything real about their friend.

I found this book a trifle depressing even though the stories probably ended in everyone getting back together or having a family of their own, etc. The journeys each character undertook eventually led him/her back to Salthill, where they all started. There is a general sense of futility, of fatalism that Oates wrote with; that no matter what happens, life goes on. The characters are all flawed but still relateable. There are little tidbits of observations about society in general (e.g. about race, wealth, ambition and family) that ring true, but there's nothing that ties them all together.

Overall, there is a little bit of chaos in the book, with Oates hopping around from one character to the next, without really bringing them together. I felt like the only thin thread that ties these stories together is merely that they knew Adam Berendt, and nothing else. Maybe that it the whole point of the story; that there is no point and life goes on. Nevertheless, Oates wrote this book well because even though I was floundering a little towards the middle, her words kept me reading. I might read her other works in the future but would definitely need a few months or a year before I can pick up another book by her.

I would recommend this book if you like realistic portrayal of characters and life settings. As the title suggests, the book might be a romanticized view of the dreaded middle age. Still, it is well-written and I enjoyed Oates' prose.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pointless and boring
I ordered this book because I was reading it for a book club I founded.One of the book club members had said that he was a big fan of this author and had read amazing stuff from her in the past.However, as we read through the book, at each meeting this same person said he was thoroughly disappointed by this book and felt that her talent had apparently run dry.While I haven't read anything else by Joyce Carol Oates, this book does not inspire me to explore her further.The characters were totally unreal, the story meandered from pointless episode to pointless episode, and it was quite the drag to finally complete.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the first book I have read by Joyce Carol Oates. It will not be the last.
The British novelist William Nicholson recently wrote in the "Daily Telegraph" of his difficulties in getting his latest novel published. The problem, it would seem, is that his characters were too suburban and middle class. It is fortunate that American publishers do not share the anti-suburban prejudices of their British colleagues, otherwise we would have been deprived of most of the oeuvre of writers such as John Updike and John Cheever. Or, for that matter, ofJoyce Carol Oates' "Middle Age".

The novel is set in Salthill-on-Hudson, an affluent commuter village in the Hudson Valley just north of New York City, and thetitle reflects the fact that most of the village's inhabitants, and all of the main characters, are middle-aged. (Few young people can afford to buy homes there). The husbands mostly commute to their high-powered jobs in New York; their wives fill in their days by admiring their picture-perfect period homes, shopping and working for various good causes.

The novel opens with bold move on the part of the writer; she kills off her main character in the opening chapter. Adam Berendt, a sculptor in his early fifties, drowns in the river while rescuing a young girl during a Fourth of July party. Yet despite his early demise, Adam is undoubtedly the most important character in the book. In life he was a well-known figure in the village, eccentric yet charismatic and popular, especially with women. In an often materialistic community he stood out from most of his neighbours, being perceived as an idealistic artist-philosopher who lived for Art and Truth rather than money. He was particularly devoted to Socrates, and would often use Socratic reasoning in his debates with his friends. Although he was not handsome, many women (including all the book's main female characters) were sexually attracted to him, and he was reputed to have been the lover of many of them. This reputation, however, seems to have been inaccurate, as although Adam had many female friends these relationships always remained platonic.

The book chronicles the various ways in which a group of Adam's friends are affected by his death. These are his lawyer Roger Cavanagh, Marina Troy, the unmarried owner of a small bookshop, Lionel Hoffmann, a wealthy publisher and his wife Camille, divorcee Abigail Des Pres and Augusta Cutler, the wife of one of Salthill's richest citizens. Some of these are inspired by what they see as Adam's ideals; Marina leaves her bookshop in order to explore her own artistic impulses, and Roger, a successful commercial lawyer, undertakes the defence of a prisoner on Death Row whom he believes to be the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Others react more negatively; Abigail, already affected by a harrowing divorce from her mean and selfish husband Harry and by her estrangement from her teenage son Jared, is stricken with grief and begins to behave irrationally. Lionel, who sees Adam's death as a troubling reminder of his own mortality, leaves his wife for a younger woman. Augusta, seemingly happily married, mysteriously disappears from home.

Like Augusta's marriage, many things in Salthill are not as tranquil or as perfect as they appear at first sight, but this is not a standard piece of anti-suburbia satire, intended to expose the entire American middle class as complacent or hypocritical conformists. Oates is more interested in the complexities of human nature than in socio-political point scoring, and her main characters are very complex indeed. They certainly have flaws; even Adam turns out to have been rather more materialistic, and to have had a rather murkier past, than many of his friends supposed. Even "Adam Berendt" may not have been his real name. Yet the characters are so recognisably human, so powerfully drawn, that we find ourselves sympathising with them despite their faults, or even sometimes because of them. Abigail, for example, is in many ways a self-destructive figure, but at the same time one whose sufferings arouse pity.

One of the characters dies a bizarre and horrifying death, but for most of the others there is a happy ending. One reviewer expresses "great shock" at "a happy ending of sorts"; an interesting viewpoint, but not one I would share.If we are shocked by a happy ending it is because modern readers, or at least those of sophisticated tastes, have been conditioned to regard happy endings as false and sentimental, so it comes as a shock to discover that there are still literary novelists who are prepared to defy modern convention and end their books on a positive note. Another reviewer expresses the view that the book does not provide a strong sense of message or purpose.

Perhaps a clue to the author's intentions is contained in her subtitle "A Romance". Romantic fiction is, of course, the one genre where a happy ending is still virtually compulsory, which doubtless explains why it is looked on with such disfavour by the literary cognoscenti. Many modern romances, are of course, trashy pulp fiction, but this does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with romance in itself. (It formed a large part of the output of the great nineteenth century novelists, especially Jane Austen). It seemed to me that Joyce Carol Oates was here taking the conventions of the genre and using them for her own ends. Contrary to the other reviewer, I felt that she did have a moral purpose in writing this book.

It seemed to me that this is a book which emphasises the importance of honesty and fidelity in personal relationships and of family values, using that phrase in a wider sense and not in the narrowly politico-sectarian sense applied to it by the Religious Right. Divorce is seen as something negative, which has damaged the lives of Abigail and Roger and their children. Jared and Roger's daughter Robin can both seem like obnoxious, self-centred brats, but we realise that they are only like that because of the stress that the breakup of their families has caused them and because of the bad example set to them by their parents. Similarly, Lionel destroys his own marriagebecause of his lust and selfishness. Adam may have had a murky past, yet the ideals which he espoused are noble ones, and those characters for whom there is a happy ending are those who have, in their own way, been able to learn something from them. Yet "Middle Age" is not simply a morality tale; it is a powerful and moving drama about the choices made by ordinary people. This is the first book I have read by Joyce Carol Oates. It will not be the last.

5-0 out of 5 stars Savor It
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.It unfolds slowly, richly.

The novel opens with Adam Berendt's tragic and heroic death.In the short time before his death, there are hints about his personal life; a woman at the party he is attending is strongly attracted to him and the cries from a drowning child echo something in his past.

Adam's death is the catalyst for all the action.Adam was a sculptor living in an elite little town on the Hudson River.Many of the women he knew, all but one married, were in love with him and expressed this love to him in one way or another. After Adam's ashes have been spread in his garden, his memory touches all of the characters in different ways.Adam was mysterious about his past. There are many surprising revelations and many previous assumptions are challenged.

Perhaps the most important legacy of his death, is the changed way his friends begin to relate to their lives and the people (and animals) they allow to get close to them.Oates weaves the stories of many characters together for a very satisfying read. ... Read more

10. Black Water (Contemporary Fiction, Plume)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 160 Pages (1993-05-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$3.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452269865
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A senator seduces young Kelly Kelleher at a Fourth of July picnic, and as they head for his hotel, his rented Toyota swerves off the unnamed road and into the black water. Reprint. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (63)

In this exciting book, Black Water (Contemporary Fiction, Plume), we glimpse events that culminated in a disastrous leap into the black waters surrounding an island in Maine.It is a fictionalized version of an episode well-known to Americans who followed the frightening and horrifying plunge that turned a politician's world upside down.

Joyce Carol Oates has created a tradition of taking real-life events and turning them into fiction.In the process, she adds insights that surface from behind the familiar news stories and creates questions about what might have happened.

In this particular story, we follow a young girl, Kelly Kelleher, who is wide-eyed with admiration for the charismatic Senator.They leave a party to rush to the ferry, and along the way, the car crashes through the guard rail and into the waters.

What sets this story apart is the back and forth meanderings of the girl's mind as she recalls how she came to meet the Senator, moments they shared, her dreams for future events...all flashing "before her eyes" in a slow-motion kind of way.

I kept thinking maybe this story would turn out differently, just like when we watch a movie over and over, hoping for that happily-ever-after.But the conclusions we can draw are really all about those thoughts and feelings that flow like a slideshow of episodes and memories.

4-0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oats is great
this book, unlike some of her other books is a very quick read. I thought this book was great she always makes you feel whats going on in the story, the details are wonderful. When she describes the car in the water and the women in it, you feel like your standing there and you cant do anything to help. Its a good book, and the truth behind it is very sad. I would say give it a chance.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Novel Based on Chappaquidick and the Drowning of Mary J. Kopechne
This novel is based on the Chapaquidick incident with Ted Kennedy and Mary J. Kopechne.It is told from the perspective of 'Kelly Kelleher' as she lays dying in the over-turned car underwater.She relives her infatuation and awe with the famous senator, his attraction to her and ultimately, his desertion of her to save his own life.Her naivete, gullibility, idealism, foolishness and youth are all too apparent as she faces death all alone.At this existential crisis, she is still unable to believe the the man she so idealized has sacrificed her so easily and without even a thought.

Like all of Oate's books, this is well-written, dark, and hard to put down. It held my interest all the way through.It is that rarity of books, a literary page-turner.

1-0 out of 5 stars Do not use for a book club!
We used this book for a book club book. It was horrible!! It is a repeating essay based on Ted Kennedy's car accident. It is an artistic story from the womans perspective. It took less than an hour to read and we all felt that we wasted an hour!
Much better books out there!

5-0 out of 5 stars "You love the life you've lived, there is no other."
For a scant 154 pages, "Black Water" packs quite a brutal punch.Oates will have you squirming in discomfort as you read about Kelly Kelleher, who after a car accident on page one spends the entirety of the novella trapped in a car underneath the titular black water, helpless and alone and waiting for help that very likely will not come.She has been abandoned and left to die by her companion, an unnamed but familiar Senator whose reckless driving got her into this mess, and who left her behind in his haste to exit the sinking vehicle.

"Black Water" is, as many undoubtedly know, based on the 1969 accident in which Ted Kennedy left young Mary Jo Kopechne to drown while he ran to get - not the police, not an ambulance - his lawyer.But Oates astutely doesn't use a sledgehammer to drive in her point, she simply focuses on the plight of Kelleher, an innocent woman trapped and flashing back on her life and the circumstances that led her to this place as the water slowly overtakes her, and allows the story to speak the volumes that it has to speak on its own.

Happy reading?Absolutely not, and I imagine that this will turn off a lot of readers.But one would be hard pressed to deny the power and intensity of Oates' writing.Entertainment Weekly recently named this one of the top fifty books of the last twenty-five years, and I can see why.I think "Black Water" will be haunting me for a long time to come.

I had never read Joyce Carol Oates before, but after this I will definitely be checking her out again - and soon.

Grade: A ... Read more

11. The Assignation
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 208 Pages (1996-08-01)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$8.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0880014407
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A woman's lover seems not to recognize her on the street. A teenage girl accepts a ride from a stranger in a rust-speckled Cadillac. An old man is obsessed by the memory of his innocent childhood intrusion on a half-dressed aunt.

In forty-four very short, very powerful stories, Joyce Carol Oates fashions brief, intensely compact dramas out of the unwieldy material of human experience. The stories in The Assignation are infused with a "radiant intensity," wrote James Atlas in the New York Times Book Review, and they convey the depth and scope of a novel in a few charged pages. The Assignation is an electric display of the talents that make Joyce Carol Oates one of our finest short story writers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Collection of stories 40 years in making
This review related to the hardcopy version of the same book.I have never read any of Joyce Carol Oates' books before, but I do know about her and the fact that she is often compared to John Updike in terms of her being a prolific writer. She publishes almost a book per year in addition to her full time teaching job at the Ivy League University.This is comprehensive collection of her stories written in the period of the last 40 years.The early ones seem to be about people who change in many ways after experiencing dramatic events in their lives.Those could be tick attacking woman's scalp, drive by shooting, or witnessing armed robbery.Her later stories seems to be about middle-aged women strong enough to stand up to their husbands and lovers and even have a lover or two while married, or in some sort of relationship.These women are empowered, strong and almost giddy about their choices. My favorite stories are "Secret" and "Homestead".I wish I could find these stories compelling, but I do not.Most of them seem to follow some formula that are not allowing story to stick around for the long time...

5-0 out of 5 stars A modern mastermind of the human experience
A small collection of short stories, some even shorter, vignettes, I suppose one could say, always in the vein of a slice of a person's life; however, Oates manages to find those things that really get to the heart of us. The volume has a theme, of secrecy, of trysts, rendezvous; the things one keeps closest to oneself, and does not like to let the too-harsh daylight shine upon them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, dark, haunting short-story collection!
Joyce Carol Oates has really outdone herself with this collection. These stories are wonderful and -- Oates at the top of her game. Each story is so well crafted and haunting, she gives you little slices of American life, each one revealing a different aspect of that life. She usually focuses on some seemliness, something dark, something sinister, but manages to keep the stories enjoyable to read. The Assignation is a collection of explicit, racy stories that awaken your senses almost as much as your intellect. My favorite story is "In Traction." You can almost feel the main character's despair. The aforementioned story enthralled me like few short stories have done. I highly recommend this collection. Oates fans will not be disappointed and for those who are not familiar with her work, it is the perfect introduction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Assignation
This book is my all-time favorite Oates book. I've read it years ago and find myself re-reading it from time to time. In this collection of short stories, Oates finds a way to drive home the utter despair of the humancondition. "A Touch of the Flu" twisted my insides and gave methat sick feeling I get when I think about death. My favorite story is"In Traction"-- the hopelessness of the character A. iscompletely beyond help. Oates is absolutely the master of horror when itcomes to daily life and she magically transfers those utterly private andpersonal feelings onto paper and exposes them grotesquely for the world tosee. EXCELLENT!

5-0 out of 5 stars Typical Oates
The Assignation is filled with often startling andhonest glimpses into the interesting moments of everyday life.Realistic to the point of being grotesque, this collection of stories is typical Oates--beautiful yetpiercing.From a woman's yearly physical ("Pinch") to an ironictour through a fallout shelter ("Shelter") Oates, as always,challenges her readers to think! ... Read more

12. The Gravedigger's Daughter: A Novel (P.S.)
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 624 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$7.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061236837
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1936, the Schwarts immigrate to a small town in upstate New York. Here the father—a former high school teacher—is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. When local prejudice and the family's own emotional frailty give rise to an unthinkable tragedy, the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca heads out into America. Embarking upon an extraordinary odyssey of erotic risk and ingenious self-invention, she seeks renewal, redemption, and peace—on the road to a bittersweet and distinctly “American” triumph.

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Customer Reviews (74)

4-0 out of 5 stars pretty good
took 9 days to be delivered from 2 states away : / but...exactly as described, great condition. although, the book had previous library owner's stamps all over.

2-0 out of 5 stars boring
This reads as though Oates had the beginning of the story written for a long time, got sick of seeing it around the house or needed some extra cash, tacked a rambling middle and flimsy ending on it, and published it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Identity and Displacement
Rebecca Schwart, a first-generation American, whose family had fled Nazi Germany to settle in a small town in upstate New York, struggles to fit in both in her family as well as in society.

Stricken by tragedy when her parents, who are driven to their graves when they are unable to get over their displacement and integrate with their adopted country, Rebecca strikes out to find her place alone, and meets a protector-turned-abuser in Niles Tignor, a brewery salesman with some shady dealings.

The rest of the novel shows how she adopt a new personality and is a celebration of one woman's true grit and determination to survive and triumph over her circumstances.

JC Oates never fails to paint larger-to-life characters, warts and all, and that is a large part of the appeal of her works. However, one finds it hard to be totally drawn by Rebecca and her flapper alter-ego she adopts, perhaps because Oates paints her as someone who is so adept at playing the role of the smiling, obliging female that becomes her armour of defence against the largely misogynist males that come her way. At some point, the character also becomes impervious to the reader.

I found the last part of the novel, a coda of sorts, in the form of letters, a rather unsatisfying conclusion to an overlong novel that traces Rebecca's search for identity and the oppression of her father's presence as well as her guilt at not having been there for her mother in her adolescence.

5-0 out of 5 stars Once beauty is smashed, it can't be remade
Her father said to Rebecca that she must hide her weakness.She hated him.Niles Tignor, her husband, had brought her to Chautauqua Falls in 1956.She worked for Niagra Tubing and had a three-year old, Niles Jr.She had been the gravedigger's daughter.

The Schwart family had arrived in Milburn, New York in 1936.Jacob Schwart found a job as a caretaker at the cemetery.Jacob Schwart had the appearance of a troll.In Munich he had been a math instructor.

School was the event of Rebecca's life.Rebecca, more than the two sons, resembled her father.In 1949 she was orphaned.Rose Lutter, Rebecca's teacher, offered to pay for her parents' burial and to take her in.

After the murder-suicide, the house was razed.Miss Lutter was a scrupulous housekeeper.Rebecca was hated in school, tormented, and she fought back.She was expelled. She did not want to appeal the decision and she stayed away from the tidy house.

Rebecca went to Niagra Falls for her honeymoon.In the early years of the seeming marriage Rebecca could not bear to return to Milburn.

This is a wonderful story.These are filled-out Joyce Carol Oates characters. (Many more characters exist in the novel than are mentioned here.)The writer makes the reader care about their fate.The region of the United States she knows well is described beautifully and in detail.The afterward is noteworthy.It is poignant and surprising.

1-0 out of 5 stars What the heck?!
I listened to this one and am sure I never would have made it through it in hardcopy form.

If this is typical of Oates writing, I will skip her other books.

An abusive father, an abusive husband for our main character.She has a stolen identity and POV of the book that jumps all over the place was making it quite distracting.

The ending was far less than satisfying. ... Read more

13. Dear Husband,: Stories
by Joyce Carol Oates
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2009-04-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$4.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002SB8R0E
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A gripping and moving new collection of stories by Joyce Carol Oates, which reimagines the meaning of family—by unexpected, often startling means

With the unflinching candor and sym­pathy for which Joyce Carol Oates is celebrated, these fourteen stories examine the intimate lives of contemporary American families: the tangled ties between generations, the desperation—and the covert, radiant happiness—of loving more than one is loved in return. In "Cutty Sark" and "Landfill," the bond between adolescent son and mother reverberates with the force of an unspoken passion, bringing unexpected consequences for the son. In "A Princeton Idyll," a woman is forced to realize, decades later, her childhood role in the destruction of a famous, beloved grandfather's life. In "Magda Maria," a man tries to break free of the enthralling and dangerous erotic obsession of his life. In the gripping title story, Oates boldly reimagines the true-crime story of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned her children in 2001. Several stories—"Suicide by Fitness Center," "The Glazers," and "Dear Joyce Carol,"—take a less tragic turn, exploring with mordant humor the shadowy interstices between self-awareness and delusion.

Dramatic, intensely rendered, and always provocative, Dear Husband, provides an unsettling and fascinating look into the mysterious heart of America.

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Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Uncanny
This author has an uncanny ability to render with authenticity and verve the internal dialogue, the motives, and patterns of behavior of a wide range of individuals. The stories, rather dark admittedly and associated with the netherworld of modern family life, had a feel of actuality, as if whatever what was the imaginative component of the stories could play against a backdrop of reality. The veracity of the stories, of the people motives, of the themes that contemporary humans play out day to day, seemed remarkable. These are events that seem to occur frequently, though in the confusing buzz of daily life one does not see them so neatly described or progressing to their obvious conclusion. The prose is also very good and the stories went quickly. Some seem at first a bit sensational, but yet there is no internal voice, at least in this reader, saying "people don't really act this way," or no voice saying, "this doesn't happen this way."I am not sure how one person, this author, registers and stores such a bestiary of different human types in her mind, or manages to recreate them or their voices so accurately but the effect was entertaining, and this book is the most engaging contemporary fiction I have read for a while.

5-0 out of 5 stars family noir
No one gets into the dark heart of families like Joyce Carol Oates. In story after story, she writes in startlingly original prose about the entanglements we cannot escape because they are part of our DNA. What makes her so effective is her taking the voice of one family member and showing how that person tries to escape, or conform to, idiosyncratic family norms. She shows how painful and predetermined close family relationships are, and she never sentimentalizes. A story like "The Blind Man's Sighted Daughters" feels so real you forget you are reading. In "Special," we feel the pain, pluck and unwavering determination of 9-year-old Aimee, who is perhaps the character based most closely on Oates herself. Landfill shows us unwavering mother love at its most heartbreakingly tragic.JCO is, if not our greatest writer, our most phenomenal. She can turn her attention to anything and make it come alive in a way that feels like she has not written about it, just observed it and let us in on what she sees. Dear Husband is as good as anything she has written, and that is very good indeed.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dark and clever story-teller
This is the first short story collection I've read by Joyce Carol Oates.She is a master story-teller.Her stories are dark, but very clever.I can't say I enjoyed reading these tales, but I'll gladly read more of her works.

2-0 out of 5 stars Simply: No.
Joyce Carol Oates is considered a classic contemporary writer. And she boasts it too. She says she's a "serious" writer. And she obviously makes efforts to invoke an American timelessness in her work, as if naming specific cities might win her a prize or two, and perhaps it has.

However, perhaps Oates is just another name hyped up by publishers and this collection of short stories proves that she is. I guess I expected more from the author, but the stories were a mixture of sensationalism matched with horrible writing made of air quotes, excessive exclamation marks, and annoying run-ons. She tackles huge and sometimes taboo subjects--incest, pornography, divorce, patricide. Yet, the stories main focus seem to be just that without digging much deeper. For example, "Cutty Sark," a story about incest, is at best scattered. Oates starts with a contemplation of suicide, a character wondering if suicide is genetic in his family, yet somehow we end with the mother's incestuous affair with her brother. She draws her character in that story well enough, yet the incest taken out would have done nothing to the story, nor did adding it in do anything. That story in particular focused upon the relationship between mother and son, and the addition of the incest information adds absolutely nothing, and becomes just sensationalist.

Oates is a sensationalist. To say she is a realist is laughable. Her characters are not real, they overact and are not characters to whom we as human beings can relate. Not that rich authors and PhD drug addicts aren't relatable, but it seems like Oates is writing from a different generation and a different paradigm and is no longer for this time in literature: it was for, maybe, another time, in the past.

Despite, this however, there were highlights. "Landfill," for example, is a great story in which Oate's once horrific use of run-ons and air quotes profits into a haunting story about the murder of a college boy. Also, "The Blind Man's Sighted Daughters," is a story in which Oates skillfully shows the tensions between family members, in this case, two daughters and their blind father.

Other than these, however, themes are reworked throughout the collection in a way that is repetitive and bland, even with the sensationalistic events. Perhaps the "serious" writer is grasping for something from her ivory tower, yet if readers can't relate to her work, she loses an audience and runs the risk of looking pompous in interviews and boring in writing, something Oates does rather well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oates
Oates has never written a story or novel that I did not love.
She has a way of describing a character's innermost self that is rivaled only by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
I cannot recommend her novels and stories highly enough. ... Read more

14. The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 544 Pages (2008-10-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$0.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061227994
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Greg Johnson, offers a rare glimpse into the private thoughts of this extraordinary writer, focusing on excerpts written during one of the most productive decades of Oates's long career. Far more than just a daily account of a writer's writing life, these intimate, unrevised pages candidly explore her friendship with other writers, including John Updike, Donald Barthelme, Susan Sontag, Gail Godwin, and Philip Roth. It presents a fascinating portrait of the artist as a young woman, fully engaged with her world and her culture, on her way to becoming one of the most respected, honored, discussed, and controversial figures in American letters.

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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rambling and occasionally fascinating
There are some great insights into writing and creativity here, mingled with mundane concerns that sometimes give insight into Oates herself, who is occasionally neurotic. I read it also to see if it shed light on her amazing creativity. It does, a bit, tho nothing is going to tell you where she gets her energy, I suppose. She's written so many books. As journals go, I gave it 4 stars, very much recommended if you like reading writers' journals.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intimate and soul-baring
This is an intimate peek at the personal musings of an amazingly talented and prolific writer. It closely follows her career moves and family life for ten years with forays into her childhood and school years. It is a great privilege to witness the inspiration and thought processing of one of the great writers of our time about the dozens of books she worked on during that decade in which she was driven to produce continuously to prove her worth to herself, striving for perfection while fearing it was unattainable.
Embarrassed by her prolificacy after being criticized for it, Oates dives into other interests that happen along (piano lessons, playwriting, book reviews, etc.) to try to distract herself from her incessant writing. "My image is of someone obsessively writing and producing and publishing feverishly..." (p.99). She wants very much to write more slowly, to be more "normal," but once she gets going on an idea she is unable to pace herself. "...Notes on "Bellefleur." More from Raphael's point of view. But slowly. Slowly. I want to take months, years, with this..." (p.263). But despite her desire to write this 592 page novel slowly, her first draft would be completed in eight months and the revision completed in another month and a half.
By the time I reached the middle of the book I was fairly certain of her obsessive/compulsive tendency. Her urge/need to write has a stranglehold on her mind, except when she is obsessing on something else (like music). The hunger - so common in her early characters - is nowhere to be found in the Oates of the journal. What I do find is a marked lack of interest in food. Maybe the physical hunger and cravings for food, with which she endows her characters, is her way of exploring these emotions and feelings to find out what she is missing. In Oates, that hunger/longing is manifested in a powerful creative urge. Only when she is actively involved in classroom instruction or visiting with friends and colleagues, can she push her writing voice away from the forefront of her mind. But even then, the voice is not stilled - merely muffled. Her mind is always writing, writing, writing, the words tumbling over one and other, recording themselves, to spill out later at the slightest beckoning. "I have all I can do to contend with the images that rush forth, in the fullness and complexity of my ordinary days" (p251).
This journal is so intimate and soul-bearing, I am repeatedly struck by her generosity in sharing it with us. One wonders why, since she can't possibly need the money or the name recognition. Perhaps it is apologetics for her phenomenal prolificacy (she has written at least 70 books and probably closer to 100) - a need to convince her critics that she labors as hard over her work as any other writer does. Whatever her reason, as a longtime fan, I am grateful for a chance to get the story behind the writer. I closed the book reluctantly and with hope that more decades of her journaling will someday be published.

2-0 out of 5 stars Pound for pound, the weightiest American writer
Yea, she writes more than anyone else, but looking into this--an era that some might argue is the best period of JCO's career--is just another reminder why this reader no longer reads her work: it's just not that interesting anymore.There's just so much material by her that's available that's second rate, it seems odd that she's publishing a volume that even she has admitted she has not read.My guess is that if you don't have enough of JCO's books on your bookshelf, you might want to add this one.Or you could ask yourself, "Which work by her do I most want to reread?"If there's an answer to that question, I'd take that book off the shelf, and then ask yourself if it was worth the second look.


People write journals for different reasons which are usually not created for public consumption; at least not while the writer is still alive. Nevertheless, this phenomenon has been known to happen and THE JOURNAL OF JOYCE CAROL OATES 1973-1982 is one such book. Oates is considered the most prolific American writer to come out of the twentieth century and move seamlessly into the twenty-first. If nothing else, this journal humanizes her, which offers fans and readers further understanding of the woman, the writer, her love of teaching and the body of work.

In "A Note on the Text" editor Greg Johnson explains why the ten years between 1973 and 1982 make up the entries chosen to create "THE JOURNAL OF JOYCE CAROL OATES: the magnitude of Oates's "4,000 single-spaced typewritten pages" is too much of a project for an editor to complete in a timely fashion. With this in mind he chose one year of "the uniformly high quality ... the journal entries ... [which he] intended to provide an accurate view of Oates's primary concerns" at that time in her writing career. These pieces "focus on her work, her writing process, and philosophical concerns." However some of her very personal experiences and interactions with family, friends, colleagues and students have made their way into this truncated version of her journal.

In her Introduction Oates tells readers that she actually began to keep a journal from 1971-1972 when she was in London and feeling somewhat homesick. " ... This journal seemed to me at the start a haphazard and temporary comfort of sorts, that would not last beyond [that particular time,] yet, astonishingly, ... the journal has endured, and is now thousands of pages housed in the Syracuse University Library Special Collections. My understanding with myself [was] that the journal would remain haphazard and spontaneous ... never revised or rethought; it would be a place for stray impressions and thoughts that shift through our heads constantly; [it] would be a repository ... for experiences and notes for writing."

The Introduction goes on to explain how Oates rationalized, ruminated upon, questioned and analyzed the entire process of journaling. She wonders if she will be too exposed if her journal is published; will the public read it and somehow sense a blurring of her fiction and these entries? If a journal is considered a private place, it is transformed into something else when others read it ... [one] of "the risks of journal-keeping."

She continues her comments: "What I have seen of this edited/abridged journal, so capably presented by Greg Johnson, affects me too emotionally to make its perusal rewarding: revisiting the past is like biting into a sandwich in which you've been assured, there are only a few, really a very few, bits of ground glass." She goes on to opine upon the reasons why she feels this way: "Does the uncensored journal reveal too much of me? Does the journal of the 1970s/1980s return me to a time in which ... my parents were alive" for example. What? Joyce Oates has not read the published version of her journal ... or at least she has not read all of it. When she talks about a "glass sandwich" readers will have a visceral reaction that will provoke them into thinking about having themselves outed in what they had begun as private writing.

Every journal, regardless of its author, will be a collage of memories, dreams, desires, self-regard, internal turmoil, petty arguments ... warm reconciliation, satisfaction and a whole host of personal experiences seemingly of import only to the author. However, journals cannot help but offer readers a window into the writer's personality, a critique on her/his work so far, questions about her/his status in society: as a person, as a professional, as a careerist and in this case as a writer and teacher. Reputation alone is not enough to sustain the ego of talented people and this drives them to keep working. Their fans often want more ... they want to understand a body of work produced by the recipient of their ardor ... offered in a way different from formal biography or autobiography.

THE JOURNAL OF JOYCE CAROL OATES 1973-1982 is rich in personal and happy reminiscences about her husband, her parents, her joy in gardening, her passion for entertaining, her respect and great regard for fellow writers and other luminaries she has known and/or continues to see. She is generous and humble. In assessing her life in 1981 about eight months after completing ANGEL OF LIGHT and A BLOODSMOOR ROMANCE she writes: "How gracefully things are taking shape, financial, professional, otherwise. ... In all, a lovely day. Amen."

But not every entry is as bright as this one. An intruder invaded her office and "thrust something at me, a tiny package. A razor blade in it, I'm led to believe." Another encounter with violence occurs in the form of a tongue-lashing: "You're very anti-man, aren't you" ("must be confusing me with the feminists".) Oates writes in her journal: "The pointlessness of violence. ... Not simply for the criminal, but for the victim. I don't think I will, or could, learn anything from the experience. Or could I?"

Perhaps she did. Oates speaks in a very American voice and imbues her writing with myths, history, family, ideas and ideals associated with the suburban, urban, academic, political and street images of the landscape of the United States. Some of her books are overtly violent and others use violence as a device to make a larger statement about the culture we inhabit. Yet, she never preaches nor does she knock the reader over the head with potentially vile ideas.

As a matter of fact, when she talks about writing, the process of writing, the formation of characters, the flow of dialogue, the choice of setting, the pace of the plot and in what century or universe the book resides, she concludes: "If I wonder where my personality really exists, in what form it best expresses itself, the answer is obvious: in the books. Between hard covers. Hard covers. The rest is Life."

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum

(c) Copyright 2007, Bookreporter.com. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright 2007, Teenreads.com. All rights reserved.

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15. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 336 Pages (1994-08-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452272319
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Five teenage girls from upstate New York in the 1950s form a blood sisterhood to protect one another against the world and its oppressors, until their leader's disastrous act of revenge puts all their lives in turmoil. Reprint. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (64)

4-0 out of 5 stars Retaliation
This novel is a fictionalized account of an all-female gang that forms in a working class community in upstate New York. The gang, Foxfire, is founded by a group of girls who've all suffered alientation and lack of parental attention. The girls share a sense of being alienated and restricted from any sort of real social benefits or meaningful relationships becuase of their age, gender, economic status, and family situation. The gang is formed, and begins, by using public humilation and minor violence to bring justice to local men who have abused the privileges of their gender. Quickly, though, their activities escalate, and it becomes clear that the gang is on a path to self-destruction. This book was a bit hard to get into at first because its written in the tone and style of one of the gang's members, but the writing becomes engrossing. Oates truly takes on the tone and spirit of a teenage girl gang. While this is part of what makes the book hard to get into, it ultimately makes for an engrossing story. It is striking just how anti-male Foxfire's violence is, and the book seems to suggest that this is one of the myriad of social responses to a world in which girls are expendable objects, sexualized, and undervalued. Indeed, Oates invites the reader to consider the gang and it's activities as part of a continuum of responses that individuals in a depressed, sexist, and emotionally alienated society might produce. The book is as much a critique of the word that made Foxfire possible as it is a narration of the gang's activities. While Oates does not excuse the violence she clearly assigns broader culpability to the world in which these girls live.

5-0 out of 5 stars LEGS
Legs Sadovsky is one of the greatest characters that I've ever encountered.She is absolutely larger than life. I only wish she could have been "heroic" while still being entirely female. Her androgeny is mentioned several times. I understand she is a tomboy with no mother figure, but why can't a girly girly be a tough leader who holds her group together?

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is sick of standard chick lit. The improper grammar is not too horrendous. I'm not sure why it bothers people so much, as it's done very purposefully. The shifting narrative perspective is a bit confusing at times. Yet it is done quite purposefully as well.

The one qualm I have is that this novel is a bit too self conscious regarding the prominent literary themes contained within. For example, there is some discussion of language creating thought and vice versa. It sounded like a page out of my junior year critical theory book. I believe there was also some talk of existentialism and religion as well. Not everyone's cup of tea.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not so good
I wanted to like this book. It started out good. As I read on, I started to get bored.Borrow it from a library if you can. Save your money.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I expected
Reading some of the reviews for this book led me to believe that this book would be a good read.I was wrong.

One of my biggest pet peeves is authors who ignore good grammar and proper punctuation, and Joyce Carol Oates is one of those authors.This novel reads like it was written by a kid in junior high.All the switching between first and third person narrative left me confused.The book is written from the perspective of the adult Maddie, but tends to read like someone observing the girls of Foxfire from afar, rather than a member of the girl gang telling how things were.

The characters, with the exception of Legs, get very little development and come across as one-dimensional.As the narrator, Maddie should have gotten more character development, but instead, she is used as little more than the voice of and for Foxfire.

The concept of a girl gang like Foxfire in the 1950's is ridiculous.This book would have been more believable had it been set in a different time frame.

If you've seen the movie, stick with the movie.At least the idea of a girl gang in the 1990's isn't so far-fetched.

1-0 out of 5 stars it gets 1 star for the cover of the book, which I liked
This book was so horrible. It was given to me by one of my friends for Christmas. I'm so glad I didn't actually part with legal tender for this putrid novel. I forced myself through the book, not caring what happened to any of the characters who were flat and boring. It was the biggest waste of time (like something you'd read in a WGS class). And why is it that the only story I ever come across in anthologies by this woman is "where are you going, where have you been"? Is this her best story? How pathetic... ... Read more

16. The Falls: A Novel
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 512 Pages (2008-06-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$3.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061565342
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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It is 1950 and, after a disastrous honeymoon night, Ariah Erskine's young husband throws himself into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. Ariah, "the Widow Bride of the Falls," begins a relentless seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side is confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby, who is unexpectedly drawn to this plain, strange woman. What follows is a passionate love affair, marriage, and family—a seemingly perfect existence. But the tragedy by which they were thrown together begins to shadow them, damaging their idyll with distrust, greed, and even murder.

Set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-twentieth century, this haunting exploration of the American family in crisis is a stunning achievement from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation).

... Read more

Customer Reviews (87)

1-0 out of 5 stars I cant believe I made it to the end!
After reading raving reviews about this book, I couldnt wait to pick it up. After - finally! - getting through it, I don't understand what all the fuss was about? The book contained too many plot lines, too much unnecessary detail and was probably about 300 pages too long. Here are my comments:

- The beginning of the book, where Ariah's first husband commits suicide, was so painfully slow I almost gave up 20 pages in. A little less detail on the history of every character and every setting in the book would have been nice.

- When Ariah meets Dirk, the story picks up tremedously and I actually started to enjoy it. I was very interested in their life together, their children and the Love Canal drama. Just as the story really gets going - BOOM - the author goes and kills off the main character. At this point, the book takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

- Ariah's character becomes completely unlikeable and completely unrealistic. I get it, shes a tramautized widow. She's hurt and angry that her husband cheated on the family and (potentially) committed suicide. I understand that this trauma could cause her to be bitter and angry. What I don't understand are the complete changes in her personality. She started out as a timid, sweet, shy woman and turned into a preachy, frigid, over-religious hermit. Why was she so mean to her children? Why did she turn into such an outcast? What did she have against people, neighbors, feelings, etc. I didnt understand any of her thoughts, behaviors or actions, nor could I see how this was suppossed to be the same character from the first half of the book.

- At this point, the book then is told from the viewpoint of each of her children. This was a great idea but poorly executed. Why did we spend pages and pages having to read about Chandler's hostage situation? Was all of that detail necessary? It didnt have anything to do with the rest of the book. Chandler was shown as brave, helpful and heroic - but that could have been summed up in a couple of sentences.

- Then there is Royall. Really, Royall met some strange woman in a cemetary and has sex with her? Really??

- Juliette's section was perhaps the least thought out and developed. All we learn about this girl is that she is "dreamy", constantly has a far-off look in her eyes, can sing, and constantly looks disheveled.

- What, exactly, do Ariah's eyes look like when she is mad and has a "gasoline green" stare?

- Why do we need to know so much detail about Bud? Do I really need to know the ins and outs of his cooking career?

After forcing myself to continue through 500+ pages, I was disappointed to read that nothing came together in the end. While we do find out what happened to Dirk, what happened to Nina? What happened with the Love Canal case? Did Ariah finally find some peace? Can she go on to be a little bit more of a normal person? And what ever happened to her parents? They were constantly around when Chandler was first born. I assume they died at some point but they are just never mentioned again.

I really think this book had a lot of potential. You can see how good of a writer the author is in the middle section of the book (the Dirk section). The story started off really good at this point but ultimately got lost amongst too much detail about unrelated characters and plot lines.

If this book was 150 pages, I would say read it on a train / plane ride to make the time go by. But at 512 pages, its definitely not worth your time.

2-0 out of 5 stars What Did I Read?
Or better yet, I can't believe I read the whole thing!Great premise for a story, but the characters, especially Ariah, were just plain unlikeable, boring and unbelievable.The only character with any redeeming qualities was Dirk, and the author killed him off way to early in this overly long, confusing and downright boring book.Just when you think this book is going somewhere, the author takes the story into another direction.I finished this book because I kept thinking something great was waiting around the corner, sadly it fell flat at every turn.

Save your money and your precious time with this snooze fest.

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting and Brilliant
I found this book at a used bookstore in Riverside, CA while on a cross country road trip from Texas to Oregon. It was my constant companion on the last leg of the journey and it truly was difficult to put down. It "lived" as I read it, like a film. Oates work has never disappointed me.

3-0 out of 5 stars Ariah's Not the Only One Confused....
The only thing likeable about this cumbersome novel was that it spanned decades of changing society. The contrast in ideas and customs from the beginning of the book to the end provokes some good discussion.It could have been cut by 100 pages and still delivered the same story line and message.At least the author brought the story full circle and came up with a door closing ending.

5-0 out of 5 stars Falls
I love it. Very interesting. Always waiting for the next situation to take place. Page turner. ... Read more

17. Little Bird of Heaven: A Novel
by Joyce Carol Oates
Hardcover: 448 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$4.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003IWYGVG
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Joyce Carol Oates returns with a dark, romantic, and captivating tale, set in the Great Lakes region of upstate New York—the territory of her remarkably successful New York Times bestseller The Gravedigger's Daughter.

Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic violence in late-twentieth-century America returns to the emotional and geographical terrain of acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates's previous bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravedigger's Daughter.

When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers' son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl's daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the other's father is guilty.

Told in halves in the very different voices of Krista and Aaron, Little Bird of Heaven is a classic Oates novel in which the lyricism of intense sexual love is intertwined with the anguish of loss, and tenderness is barely distinguishable from cruelty. By the novel's end, the fated lovers, meeting again as adults, are at last ready to exorcise the ghosts of the past and come to terms with their legacy of guilt, misplaced love, and redemptive yearning.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

1-0 out of 5 stars Tiresome
I found the book interesting at first and then it became tedious and tiresome. After 15 pages of non-stop talk by Jacky to Krista I kept feeling lets get on with it. I could not finish the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Family Drama / Society's Judgment
I've read no writer who can create the feel of Western New York (my home region) with the precision of Joyce Carol Oates. She describes the look and feel of the highways, housing and bleak winter of Sparta, NY, perhaps a typical upstate small town. More importantly, she writes of the people who live there and the lives they make.

Here she tackles the aftermath of a heinous murder. She writes of its effect on the families of two men whom society has judged as guilty.These families had troubles before their big "trouble" began. Both families were severed by drugs and adultery. One family had the added burden of violence and family and societal views of inter-cultural marriage.

There are secrets in small towns. Some are open and others buried way down. There are informal power structures in small towns and there are some people who live above the law.This book describes the wreckage caused by the self preservation of people inside and outside the system.

I have to admit, were this not JCO, I would not have stayed with it. Somewhere before page 158 I started to wonder if I really cared about this story. It was a relief when in Chapter 17 a new element is introduced and the story really begins.

There are parts I'd have preferred were pruned.The basketball games, or Krista's phone call and French fries in the bar with Dad, or the much later the episode with Claude Loomis are examples of parts that would have been better had they been shorter. The ice cream cone with the weevils in it just did not make sense (where would a proper ice cream bar, as this one seemed to be, have easily available weevils?). It did not seem to fit the other characteristics attributed to Zoe.

Despite the wordiness in some parts, is a very good book, by a very good author.

2-0 out of 5 stars Did not like it
This is one of the least enjoyable books I've read by Oates. It is far too slow moving and repetitive. Just not one of my favorites. I couldn't finish it.

1-0 out of 5 stars I Couldn't Finish This One
This novel by Oates is so unrelentingly depressing that I gave up about mid-way through.The events are told haltingly with all sorts of sentence fragments and jerky tropes by, Krista, the daughter of Eddy Diehl.Eddy is the sort of macho, uneducated, working class, physically imposing male that Oates seems to find sexually exciting.He fits that male stereotype that some women just cannot seem to resist.He's violent, unpredictable, and addicted.Hmmm!With a guy like that you never know what's next.What fun!?No.

His daughter, Krista, has the hots for him in an intense Oedipal way--or I guess you call it "the Electra Complex" when it's the daughter's compulsion for the father.And this seems to be what the novel is all about.How much Krista loves Daddy despite what a jerk he is.He tries to present himself as a victim and feels sorry for himself like so many macho men do, but it won't go with anyone but Krista.Indeed, every character in the novel struck me as an unredeemed jerk, unworthy of our attention.

The story is set in upstate New York where I live.I'm familiar with Utica, Herkimer County, Watertown, etc. where the events take place.There's a lot to be sad about in Upstate New York, but it's not nearly as bad as Oates makes it.It's not all crime, addiction, hatred, violence, and ignorance--although there is a lot of unemployment just now.

Read The Gravedigger's Daughter by Oates.(See my Amazon review.)It has the same setting, and an Eddy Diehl-type character plays a key role, but it is, unlike Little Bird of Heaven, a literary masterpiece.

It's too bad this book is such a loser.It's got a wonderful title.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Oates
I read this after seeing Oates on stage in conversation at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.She said her attempt was to portray the phenomenon of what happens when a family member is accused of a crime but subsequently never acquitted--how a cloud of disrepute continues to hang over that person within the community.

Of course Oates is a skilled storyteller. But what unpleasant characters; not a single one I'd want to meet.The book could have benefited from better editing as well. ... Read more

18. Marya: A Life
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 320 Pages (1998-11-01)
list price: US$21.00 -- used & new: US$11.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452280206
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Successful author and famous intellectual Marya Knauer did not always occupy such a secure and comfortable position in life.Her memories of her childhood in Innisfail, New York are by turns romantic and traumatic. The early violent death of her father and abandonment by her mother have left her with a permanent sense of dislocation and loss. After decades apart, Marya becomes determined to find the mother who gave her away.In searching for her past, Marya changes her present life more than she could ever have imagined.Vividly evoking the natural beauty of rural upstateNew York, and the complex emotions of a woman artist, Marya: A Life is one of Joyce Carol Oates's most deeplypersonal and fully-realized novels. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Dark, Mysterious and Bizarre Side of Human Nature
The atmosphere in this book is similar to that in other of Oates' novels - - it borders on Gothic Modern.

The protagonist is a brilliant, somewhat bizarre loner, a survivor of a dysfunctional family.Her life is spent in proud, purposeful separateness.This becomes so natural for her that the reader does not know if other possibilities or options exist.

There is always the threat of a hurricane of emotions behind the facade of calm.It is always understated but we know that only the surface emotions are portrayed.The protagonist shays she's never cried because she's afraid that if she does she will never stop.

I love the work of this author.This bookwill not disappoint if you enjoy the dark, mysterious and bizarre side of human nature.Oates gets this just right.

4-0 out of 5 stars Oates' most autobiographical novel
This incredibly prolific author has readily admitted to this novel as her most autobiographical. Marya whirlwinds through the brutality of schoolyard life, the angst of adolescence, the trials of academia, the upsets of failed relationships. In the loosest sense, this is a Bildungsroman, the tale of a young person on the make.If one scene in the novel stands in the reader's memory, it would be an episode about a third of the way through when the school's English teacher is tormented by the class to the point of nervous breakdown..The episode invites comparison with what happens early along in another Bildungsroman, Richler's THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ.

This story is Marya's life, but in some strange way Marya is an outsider, someone less at the centre of events than someone pushed round by them.Self-awareness is her salvation; if not for Marya, then for everyone around her we are reminded of Nietzsche's words about nondescript people who register their presence in the world with a kind of dumb amazement.Everything Marya does shows her on a level of understanding far beyond that of her kin, her classmates, her coworkers. Halfway through the novel (p. 137), we have the intellectually precocious Marya, for whom "every word of LEAR [was] hooked in flesh and could not be dislodged." [218 words]

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but Oates has done better
It was Virginia Woolf who decried the lack of literature about the lives of the masses, the everyday folk: "All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded," she said. Of course, she didn't promise to read them!

In MARYA, A LIFE, Oates attempts to fill that void. Marya is a portrait of a modern woman from a bewildered childhood to a womanhood that commands admiration, respect and love. She is a loner, bright and different from the people around her. She strives for self understanding and fulfillment.

Joyce Carol Oates is a meticulous storyteller and a vivid writer. I wonder if this is autobiographical. If so, the Woolf reference becomes irrelevant. Oates is definitely ordinary folk -- she is one of the finest and most recognized writers on the contemporary American literary scene.

But if you're in the mood for a book about a woman growing up and "making it" on her own, you'll enjoy this one.

Sunnye Tiedemann (aka Ruth F. Tiedemann)

5-0 out of 5 stars True to form, the last sentence came through.
I read this book and couldn't help thinking that I was just "hearing" an account of someone's life. I felt as if I was missing something which I was. And it came out in the last sentence of this amazing and I don't know how she does it book by Joyce Carol Oates. Between "Them", "Do With Me What You Will". "You Must Remember This", and Short Stories written by this woman, I don't know how she knows, how can she get into "our" lives, "our" minds, "our" thoughts, and write so knowingly and correctly about life with such feeling and understanding, I'll never comprehend, just wish if only I had the insight and ability she has. A friend years ago said this book was written as if about my personal family and knowledge she had about our life, but this book was everyone's story, no one could not relate. Again, I thank Joyce Carol Oates for her knowing. I am sure she would understand the previous sentence.

4-0 out of 5 stars Character development like only Oates can deliver
This is another great book by Oates, that really takes you into the mind of the character.At times it is a bit erratic, and even tedious, butin a style that makes you want to read on.It is a good read if you love thedescriptive style of Oates and don't require a lot of dialog and action tomaintain your attention. ... Read more

19. Will You Always Love Me?: And Other Stories
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 336 Pages (1997-02-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$11.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452274133
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
As one woman continues to feel the rage over the murder of her sister two years ago, another becomes her son's accomplice in a devious plot, in a powerful collection of short stories. Reprint. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars I will always love Joyce Carol Oates
Few writers have the talent, energy, wisdom, imagination, skills, soul, and love of the story to ever take her place in my heart.I recall many years ago reading earlier books and recognizing not many could ever match her development of characters and the STORY,

4-0 out of 5 stars Tales Of Revenge, Madness, Humiliation, Coming To Consiousness, Pain!
In Will You Always Love Me, the flawless Joyce Carol Oates reversed a decade-long trend of writing explorations of the many facets of love among late-century couples, by returning to the delightfully complicated sorts of tales she reveled in during the early 1980's. These dyed-in-the-wool Gothic stories, set amid the familiar miscellanae of modern life, compel the reader to see existence within American society from a point of view slanted toward the harsh secret mindscapes that are concealed within each and every one of us, no matter how shallow we might outwardly appear. By establishing us as concealed voyeurs who look on into the lives of the characters in these tales, and by stripping us of our acceptance of the mundane majority of daily goings-on, we pass with Oates' aid into a state of hyper-realization and see things in these stories better than those who dwell within them: we see things as they ARE. No other writer achieves this quite as skillfully as Joyce Carol Oates. My favorite among these stories was the one in which the still-attractive middle-aged neighbor woman plotted a sexual liaison with a teenage boy she believes she has seduced. The rather frightened boy timidly admits to his mother what the woman has planned, and the mother, with the strategic brilliance of a maternal warrior set on protecting her offspring,expertly arranges the other woman's abject humiliation and in the process no doubt crumbles the would-be temptress' self-image to its heavily made-up foundations. That is viciousness doled out with a minimalism that is an Oatesean trademark. This story and nearly two-dozen others await inside Will You Always Love Me, Joyce Carol Oates' finest collection in many years.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joyce Carol Oates does it again!
Joyce Carol Oates's short-story collections get better and better each time I pick one up. This is one of the most beautiful, haunting, dark collections ever written. This time Oates tackles American life with unflinching honesty. The stories in this collection touched me to the core. Oates has such a vivid, incredible imagination. My favorite stories are "You Petted Me, and I Followed You Home," "The Missing Person," "The Girl Who Was to Die," "The Goose Girl," "The Brothers," and "The Vision." Some of the stories are poignant, others have a touch of humor and there are those that are all out sinister. One thing is certain: they are all dark and thought provoking. Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors. Her lurid tales haunt me long after reading them. I cannot wait to read one of her full-length novels. I cannot recommend Will You Always Love Me? enough.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unexpected truths (Review contains a spoiler)
I enjoyed these stories, but the one I found most memorable, the one I could relate to was "The Goose Girl."It's amazing to me how life seems to know where we all are most vulnerable, and what some of us are most afraid of, that realization that "we ain't all of that."
I was in that room with the title female character of "The Goose Girl."I was there with her as she hung up the telephone with a stunned look on her face. Didn't she know?The person you most truly need, you most truly want, you ain't gon get.

5-0 out of 5 stars Master Stories from a Master Storyteller
Joyce Carol Oates has really outdone herself with this collection.Thesestories are wonderful and are Oates at the top of her game.Each story isso well crafted and hauting, she gives you little slices of American life,each one revealing a different aspect of that life.She usually focuses onsome seamliness, something dark, something sinister, but manages to keepthe stories enjoyable to read.I highly recommend this collection.Oatesfans will not be disappointed and for those who are not familiar with herwork, it is the perfect introduction. ... Read more

20. Zombie
by Joyce Carol Oates
Paperback: 192 Pages (1996-09-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452275008
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
After Quentin P, a convicted sex offender, is paroled, he embarks on a series of murders, in a chilling book that is told from Quentin's point of view as he kills and eludes the police. Reprint.Amazon.com Review
A hero who gets into the mind of a serial killer is a fixtureof television crime shows, but such stories are usually disappointing,because the viewer knows it's just a gimmick. Not so with this unusuallittle novel, which The New York Times called a"note-perfect, horror-comic ventriloquization of a half-bright,infantile serial killer." Joyce Carol Oates has so convincinglywritten through the voice of a killer, you will feel nervous whilereading at how familiar, how human, he is. Part of how sheachieves the effect is through sparing use of bizarre capitalization(e.g., "MOON" and "FRAGMENT") and crude drawingsdone with a felt-tip pen. But the language is what makes it comealive, as in such weird statements as "My whole body is a numbtongue." This book was winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award forBest Novel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (59)

3-0 out of 5 stars I love Joyce Carol Oates but...
I have read almost everything Oates' has written, and The Tattooed Girl is one of my favorites.I have read extensively in psychology and true crime, etc. so this wasn't a first time for me, but I had a hard time with this book.It is definitely not my first graphic novel about a psychopath, but I found it really hard to read.Maybe because his IQ is so low and he illustrates his thoughts at the end of each chapter - that may have turned me off a little.I am not squeamish but his forays into performing his own lobotomies based on a 1942 medical textbook are particular gruesome.I would say Joyce Carol Oates is my absolute favorite modern writer, but I don't think this is her finest work, by a long shot.

I much preferred her roman a clef about the Ramsey family, Blonde, and some of her earlier novels.I keep putting this one down.Maybe I'm just surprised to find this from her, but I would definitely not recommend it to a first time Oates' reader.She has written better novels.Still, because she wrote it, there is something compelling about it.I ordered some of her junior fiction for my 9th grade daughter, but this one I don't think I'd recommend to her because it's simply too creepy and it's hard to read about someone who appears so seemingly functional and yet so immune to the feelings of others (and yes, I know that's the definition of some psychopaths).I will be lucky to finish it, but I'm not a quitter when it comes to books, so I'll get through it.

Does anyone else out there feel this way?

5-0 out of 5 stars Great
It arrived at a decent time and it was in great condition! The book itself is amazing and I can not believe I got such a great deal on this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars astonishing critique of contemporary customs
I was completely surprised by this book. I read it in one sitting, completely enthralled at Oates' capacity to create an insane character who is also functional within the context of the world in which he is placed. The thought processes, the reactions to family and neighborhood, the way the character goes to school and befriends others or interacts during transactions, it's so well observed and so believable; this has to rate as one of the most entertaining explorations of madness in print. Reading Zombie provokes a deeper appreciation of the human condition.

4-0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, but really good
This is definitely not for those with weak stomachs. This novel contains graphic violence and rape scenes, as well as lots of harsh language.
Luckily, I can tolerate these things pretty well, and it is actually a very good novel. I decided to read it after I read Beasts (also by Oates) and this one was very differently written. Since it is told from the perspective of a psychopathic sexual predator, she did her best to put you into his mind, and did a very good job of it.
Books don't generally creep me out, but this one REALLY creeped me out. But in addition to being creepy, it's also a really good novel. Anyone who loves horror fiction should check this out, even though that's not really what it is. It's really psychological though, and I love that. I will definitely be reading more Oates after this.

5-0 out of 5 stars It Wont' Be For Everyone, But...
One of Oates' strengths is that she is fearless.And this book is fearless.It is not for those who are easily offended or disturbed.It is the story of a sexual-sadist-serial-killer, from the point of view of the killer.If you're already upset by that, do not read the book.But if you can go with Oates on this journey, you will witness the at once horrifying and mundane and delusional and claustrophobic life and mind of Quentin P.It is truly amazing that she managed to pull this off--to humanize him without making him too sympathetic, to let ugliness and horror just reveal itself without the ego of the author to step in and self-consciously judge (which comes from fear of being read wrong).But Oates, like I said, is fearless, and so you are left to be in Quetins P.'s head for the downward spiral.But please, don't read, much less leave an terrible review for, a story, the mere idea of which already upsets and/or disturbs you.To cite "bad writing" or "lack of craft" as criticisms--what bothers you--only gives you away as someone looking for an objective-sounding criticism for something that subjectively offended you. There's nothing wrong with being subjectively upset and saying so--that's what strong material does. But the disingenuous "criticism" does nothing but make one look hysterical and vindictive. ... Read more

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