High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories, 1966-2006
Joyce Carol Oates
Ecco, 2006 (2006)
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Reviewed by Shannon Bigham
ans of Joyce Carol Oates will want to go out and purchase
, a collection of short stories from the 1960s to the present. This hefty hardcover edition begins with several
, and then shifts back to the 1960s and moves onward in chronological order. Oates has a knack for creating a staunch picture of Americana – often at its dreariest and its darkest. Many of the characters in Oates' short stories (and novels) are violent people controlled by their obsessive impulses, which are acted upon with fervor.
eing an avid fan of Oates' works, I knew what I was in for when I opened her book and I read the stories at a leisurely pace to savor them. In the title story, the murder of a father leads to the violent revenge killing of another family member (death by bludgeoning with a hammer). One of my favorites was
Upon The Sweeping Flood
, a bizarre account of a man stopping to help save two abandoned children in the middle of a hurricane – the children being at the violent mercy of their savior. Clearly, these are not stories for the faint-hearted.
nother favorite of mine was
* BD * 11 1 87
, where an orphaned young man about to graduate from high school is awarded a
scholarship to college – in reality, the biotech organization issuing the scholarships has other plans for the innocent graduate (think involuntary
). Though this story had a touch of science fiction (not my favorite genre) to it, Oates' style and prose pulled me right in. When I read her books, I feel like I am a fly on the wall, not a reader holding a book. Her writing feels that
here are so many stories in this book (many previously out of print), it is not feasible to mention each one. However, it is safe to say that while Oates has been writing for forty-plus years, she is far from past her prime. She is a literary talent with a unique voice that compares to no other author that I have read. I highly recommend
to Oates fans and fans of short stories. Do not be discouraged or daunted by its length – it is well worth reading and you can put it down between stories if you need to temporarily pick up lighter reading fare.
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