The sixteen stories of Sourland beautifully resonate with the author's trademark fascination for the unpredictable in the midst of the 'ordinary' - the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life, a predilection for dark humor, and a gift for voice. The inhabitants of Sourland are as varied as a desperate man who dons a jack-o-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship, a story of a stabbing many times recounted in the life of a lonely young girl, a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father, a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin, and a professor's wife who finds herself tragically isolated at the party she is hosting for her beloved husband's colleagues.
"Oates's fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. This is a trenchant book of 'cruel fairy tales' in which people are severely tested, profoundly punished, and tragically transformed." - Booklist
"When Oates is at her best, the work reflects a delicious boundary-crossing mix of literary artistry and genre-writing skill. The stories that work less well lack the requisite subtlety to transcend the journalistic taint." - Library Journal
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Rated of 5
This is the first Joyce Carol Oates book I have ever read. I thought that by reading a collection of her short stories, I might be able to quickly get a broader taste of her work. Although she is definitely a talented writer as evidenced by her amazing cast of characters throughout this collection of stories, I found each short story leaving me empty and asking, "is that it? That is how you are going to end this story? Really?". There did not seem to be any resolution or closure. The stories did not end with me feeling grounded; it was more like Ms. Oates just left me hanging. A little disappointing. Can anyone suggest another one of her books?
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud
Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring
fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the
Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book
Award. She 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. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for
Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary
A Widow's Story (2011)
With Shuddering Fall (1964)
Do with Me What You Will (1973)
Miracle Play (1974)
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