Joyce Carol Oates
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About Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
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Titles By Joyce Carol Oates
Includes “Big Momma,” a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Short Story
Here are six of Joyce Carol Oates’s most “frightening—and deeply disturbing—short stories” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In the titular story, a boy becomes obsessed with his cousin’s doll after her tragic death. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls” from surrounding neighborhoods . . . each with its own sinister significance.
In “Gun Accident,” a teenage girl is delighted to house-sit for her favorite teacher, until an intruder forces his way inside—changing more than one life forever. The collection closes with the taut tale of a mystery bookstore owner whose designs on a rare bookshop in scenic New Hampshire devolve into a menacing game with real-life consequences. “At the heart of each story is a predator-prey relationship, and what makes them so terrifying is that most of us can easily picture ourselves as the prey, at least at some time during our lives” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
“Everything she writes, in whatever genre, has an air of dread, because she deals in vulnerabilities and inevitabilities, in the desperate needs that drive people . . . to their fates. A sense of helplessness is the essence of horror, and Oates conveys that feeling as well as any writer around.” —Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review
“One of the stranger parts of the human condition may be our deep fascination, and at times troubling exploration, of the darker aspects of our nature . . . No other author explores the ugly, and at times, blazingly unapologetic underbelly of these impulses quite like Joyce Carol Oates in The Doll-Master.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“In her new collection . . . [Oates] relishes moments of gothic melodrama, while rooting them firmly in grindingly ordinary American lives.” —The Guardian
“Oates convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the macabre with this superlative story collection . . . This devil’s half-dozen of dread and suspense is a must read.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
A New York Times Notable Book
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet. But something happens on Valentine’s Day, 1976—an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home—that rends the fabric of their family life...with tragic consequences. Years later, the youngest son attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys’ former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that brought about the family’s tragic downfall.
Profoundly cathartic, this extraordinary novel unfolds as if Oates, in plumbing the darkness of the human spirit, has come upon a source of light at its core. Moving away from the dark tone of her more recent masterpieces, Joyce Carol Oates turns the tale of a family struggling to cope with its fall from grace into a deeply moving and unforgettable account of the vigor of hope and the power of love to prevail over suffering.
“It’s the novel closest to my heart....I’m deeply moved that Oprah Winfrey has selected this novel for Oprah’s Book Club, a family novel presented to Oprah’s vast American family.”—Joyce Carol Oates
Twenty-two disturbing tales of crime and suspense from "America's preeminent fiction writer" (New Yorker)
Two hitmen in a depressed rust belt town struggle with a job gone wrong. A girl witnesses a horrifying accident and carries it with her for the rest of her life. Medical students bring a severed foot to a college party. Five-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Joyce Carol Oates has made a career of exploring the forbidden corners of human experience, and the stories collected here, spanning her first three decades as a writer, are among her most unsettling and unforgettable works to date.
Originally published in long out-of-print volumes, these tales have not appeared in any form this century—until now; formally fresh and endlessly experimental, they show a writer boldly engaging with disturbing truths and terrifying possibilities, and deconstructing the tropes and expectations of traditional prose writing as she does so. But beyond their stylistic ingenuity, these are creepy, suspenseful stories that cut straight to the bone; their darkness will linger long after the final page is turned.
A must-read for long-time fans of Joyce Carol Oates and an excellent introduction for the uninitiated, the twenty-two tales included in Extenuating Circumstances exemplify the author’s idiosyncratic spookiness, “visceral, psychologically involving, and socially astute" (Booklist).
With the novella and six stories collected here, Joyce Carol Oates reaffirms her singular reputation for portraying the dark complexities of the human psyche. The title novella tells the story of Marissa, an eleven-year-old girl with hair the color of corn silk. When she suddenly disappears, mounting evidence points to a local substitute teacher. Meanwhile, an older girl from Melissa’s school is giddy with her power to cause so much havoc unnoticed. And she intends to use that power to enact a terrifying ritual called The Corn Maiden.
In “Helping Hands,” published here for the first time, a widow meets an Iraq War veteran in a dingy charity shop, having no idea where the peculiar encounter is about to lead. In “Fossil-Figures,” a pair of twins—an artist and a congressman—never outgrow an ugly sibling rivalry. And in “A Hole in the Head,” a plastic surgeon gives in to an unusual and dangerous request.
Together, these seven tales offer “a virtuoso performance” of “probing, unsettling, intelligent” storytelling from one of the world’s greatest writers of suspense (The Guardian).
“The seven stories in this stellar collection from the prolific Oates may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises. . . . This volume burnishes [her] reputation as a master of psychological dread.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“For horror stories to be truly horrific, the reader has to care. Oates feels this deeply in her writing, and delivers with style.” —The Independent
“Further confirmation of a unique writer’s restless, preternatural brilliance.” —The Guardian
“Timely, monumental. . . . Yet another piercing examination of American culture by the writer this reviewer considers our country's greatest living novelist. . . . It is brilliant. How blessed we are to have her as a novelist in our chaotic, confusing times. Night is spot on for these times of racial divide, as well as in portraying the fractious family dynamic that many of us know all too well. . . . Night deserves the top spot on your quarantine nightstand. Here's a fervent salute to Oates, our finest American novelist, for this one.” -- Star Tribune
The bonds of family are tested in the wake of a profound tragedy, providing a look at the darker side of our society by one of our most enduringly popular and important writers
Night Sleep Death The Stars is a gripping examination of contemporary America through the prism of a family tragedy: when a powerful parent dies, each of his adult children reacts in startling and unexpected ways, and his grieving widow in the most surprising way of all.
Stark and penetrating, Joyce Carol Oates’s latest novel is a vivid exploration of race, psychological trauma, class warfare, grief, and eventual healing, as well as an intimate family novel in the tradition of the author’s bestselling We Were the Mulvaneys.
A NOVEL OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM BESTSELLING AND PRIZEWINNING AUTHOR JOYCE CAROL OATES
Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood - and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.
In vividly depicted scenes of escalating suspense, Michaela cares desperately for Gerard in his final days as she comes to realize that her love for her husband, however fierce and selfless, is not enough to save him and that his death is beyond her comprehension. A love that refuses to be surrendered at death—is this the blessing of a unique married love, or a curse that must be exorcized?
Part intimately detailed love story, part horror story rooted in real life, BREATHE is an exploration of hauntedness rooted in the domesticity of marital love, as well as our determination both to be faithful to the beloved and to survive the trauma of loss.
A new collection of poetry from an American literary legend, her first in twenty-five years
Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most insightful observers of the human heart and mind, and, with her acute social consciousness, one of the most insistent and inspired witnesses of a shared American history.
Oates is perhaps best known for her prodigious output of novels and short stories, many of which have become contemporary classics. However, Oates has also always been a faithful writer of poetry. American Melancholy showcases some of her finest work of the last few decades.
Covering subjects big and small, and written in an immediate and engaging style, this collection touches on both the personal and political. Loss, love, and memory are investigated, along with the upheavals of our modern age, the reality of our current predicaments, and the ravages of poverty, racism, and social unrest. Oates skillfully writes characters ranging from a former doctor at a Chinese People’s Liberation Army hospital to Little Albert, a six-month-old infant who took part in a famous study that revealed evidence of classical conditioning in human beings.
Four brand-new novellas by the #1 New York Times-bestselling, National Book Award-winning “grand mistress of ghoulishness” (Publishers Weekly).
An academic in Pennsylvania discovers a terrifying trauma from her past after inheriting a house in Cardiff, Maine from someone she has never heard of. A pubescent girl, overcome with loneliness, befriends a feral cat that becomes her protector from the increasingly aggressive males that surround her. A brilliant but shy college sophomore is distraught to discover that she’s pregnant, and the professor who takes her under his wing may not have innocent intentions. And a woman who marries into a family shattered by tragedy finds herself haunted by her predecessor’s voice, an inexplicably befouled well, and a compulsive attraction to a garage that took two lives.In these psychologically daring, chillingly suspenseful pieces, the author of We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde writes about women facing threats past and present, once again cementing her reputation for “great intelligence and dead-on imaginative powers” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
“Oates’ American saga captivates because it exists within an actual drama playing out across the country...Martyrs is a graceful and excruciating story of two families who do not live very far apart, but exist in different realities. ” --USA Today, 4-star review
“Successful because [Oates] refuses to satirize or dehumanize anyone, even murderous foes of abortion...With its wrath and violence, A Book of American Martyrs offers this teaspoon of warmth in these troubled times: that it is possible to be wrong without surrendering your humanity.” --Los Angeles Times
“The most relevant book of Oates’s half-century-long career, a powerful reminder that fiction can be as timely as this morning’s tweets but infinitely more illuminating.” --Washington Post
A powerfully resonant and provocative novel from American master and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates
In this striking, enormously affecting novel, Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of two very different and yet intimately linked American families. Luther Dunphy is an ardent Evangelical who envisions himself as acting out God’s will when he assassinates an abortion provider in his small Ohio town while Augustus Voorhees, the idealistic but self-regarding doctor who is killed, leaves behind a wife and children scarred and embittered by grief.
In her moving, insightful portrait, Joyce Carol Oates fully inhabits the perspectives of two interwoven families whose destinies are defined by their warring convictions and squarely-but with great empathy-confronts an intractable, abiding rift in American society.
A Book of American Martyrs is a stunning, timely depiction of an issue hotly debated on a national stage but which makes itself felt most lastingly in communities torn apart by violence and hatred.
“Its power of evocation is remarkable.” —The New Yorker
In the midst of a long summer on Grayling Island, Maine, twenty-six-year-old Kelly Kelleher longs for something interesting to happen to her—something that will make her finally feel some of what she imagines other people must feel when they watch the fireworks explode off the beach. So when Kelly meets The Senator at an exclusive party and he asks her to go back to a hotel room on the main island with him, she says yes. Even though the senator is old enough to be her father, even though he has perhaps been drinking too heavily to get behind the wheel, the danger of saying yes is an inevitable and even exciting part of the adventure Kelly is finally going to have.
However, as The Senator’s car whips around the island’s roads and eventually crashes through a guardrail, it becomes clear to Kelly and the reader that this man embodies a wholly different and more sinister type of danger, one much larger and harder to contain than the horrible events that unfold as Kelly is left in the sinking car. Black Water is a chilling meditation on power, trust, and violation and a timeless classic from one of America’s foremost storytellers.
“A painful truth of family life: the most tender emotions can change in an instant. You think your parents love you but is it you they love, or the child who is theirs?” --Joyce Carol Oates, My Life as a Rat
Which should prevail: loyalty to family or loyalty to the truth? Is telling the truth ever a mistake and is lying for one’s family ever justified? Can one do the right thing, but bitterly regret it?
My Life as a Rat follows Violet Rue Kerrigan, a young woman who looks back upon her life in exile from her family following her testimony, at age twelve, concerning what she knew to be the racist murder of an African-American boy by her older brothers. In a succession of vividly recalled episodes Violet contemplates the circumstances of her life as the initially beloved youngest child of seven Kerrigan children who inadvertently “informs” on her brothers, setting into motion their arrests and convictions and her own long estrangement.
Arresting and poignant, My Life as a Rat traces a life of banishment from a family—banishment from parents, siblings, and the Church—that forces Violet to discover her own identity, to break the powerful spell of family, and to emerge from her long exile as a “rat” into a transformed life.