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I think you're so right about reading her in "small doses." I've only read three of her many books, but I've loved each one them. It's funny that you post about this interesting essay today, as I just ran across this magazine article about her hometown:

I haven't read the entire article yet, but I have looked at the pictures, and they're kind of great.


Last week I finished Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates. It made me feel uneasy, quite a disturbing book which took time to digest as well as fade. Didnot feel like reading anything for a few days to be honest. I think she is a terrific author, yet one I will not return to very soon.


I've only ever read a few Oates essays (not this one) and even though I have a few of her novels on my shelf I've not read them yet. I think I must make more of an effort but plan to only read in small doses as you suggest.

Dorothy W.

I've only read one Oates story (her most famous one, I think -- "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," and this essay, although, again, I don't remember it. I liked what I read, but I'm not much interested in reading more -- I think her particular kind of darkness doesn't really appeal to me. Small doses is a good idea!


Maire--I have that Smithsonian--thanks for the reminder. I saw that article and want to read it as well--perfect timing really. And she's an interesting read but heavy duty for me anyway.
Catharina--I read that one a couple of years ago and felt the same way! It was disturbing and you can't get the images out of your mind even though the story wasn't exactly violent. She's got a real talent for creating a really creepy atmosphere, but it's almost the idea of things. There's something menacing about her stories that makes you want to look over your shoulder! I like her as well, but need to space out what I read by her.
Stefanie--She's a very good writer--I think you'd like her, but a little can go a long way!
Dorothy--I read that one as well and still recall the uneasy feel of it. She is very dark, and she can do it with an economy of words really, which is somehow almost scarier. There are some books I'd like to read that I think aren't quite so dark, but I'm not sure when I'll get to them!


Your review perfectly captures how I feel about JCO. I do like what she does - well, I admire it, and think she's unique - but I can only take it in small doses and when I'm feeling strong! Whatever she writes comes with a ferocious emotional punch, and it's hard to hold her stories away from you in an analytical manner (at least, I find).


This story sounds wonderful. Joyce Carol Oates I do find hard to read - you have to be in the right mood, and have patience, in my experience, but she's worth it in the end. In small doses, though, definitely, as you say!


Litlove--I have several other JCO novels on my shelves but I am saving them for the right moment. At least her short stories and essays are not major undertakings, but she still manages to throw you for a loop even in a few pages!
Rachel--I think you're right! I've enjoyed/appreciated what I've read by her, but they were things I really wanted to read at the time. She's definitely worth the effort!


I have one question?

What kind of economic and social situation do Oates’ descriptions reflect?

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