Sourland: Book summary and reviews of Sourland by Joyce Carol Oates

Sourland

Stories

by Joyce Carol Oates

Sourland
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Sep 2010
    384 pages
    Genre: Short Stories & Essays

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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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Sourland Review
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?

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Author Information

Joyce Carol Oates Author Biography

Photo by Marion Ettlinger

Joyce Carol Oates was born in Lockport, New York, in 1938 and grew up on the family farm where she developed a love of literature and writing. She earned a scholarship to Syracuse University and graduated valedictorian. She then took a masters degree, after which she started teaching at the University of Detroit where she met her first husband Raymond J Smith. In the late '60s, they moved to the University of Windsor in Canada, where they were co-editors of the literary quaterly publication The Ontario Review. In the late 1970s she took a teaching position at Princeton University where she is currently the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

She published her first book in 1963, and has published over 40 ...

... Full Biography
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