Oates, Joyce Carol 1938–
Oates, Joyce Carol 1938–
(Lauren Kelly, Rosamond Smith)
PERSONAL: Born June 16, 1938, in Lockport, NY; daughter of Frederic James (a tool and die designer) and Caroline (Bush) Oates; married Raymond Joseph Smith, January 23, 1961. Education: Syracuse University, B.A., 1960; University of Wisconsin, M.A., 1961.
ADDRESSES: Office—Council of the Humanities, 223 185 Nassau St., Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Agent—John Hawkins, 71 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10010; (for plays) Peter Franklin, c/o William Morris Agency, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. University of Detroit, Detroit, MI, instructor, 1961–65, assistant professor, 1965–67; University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, member of English department faculty, 1967–78; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, writer-in-residence, 1978–81, professor, 1987–, currently Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.
MEMBER: PEN, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mademoiselle college fiction award, 1959, for "In the Old World"; National Endowment for the Arts grants, 1966, 1968; Guggenheim fellowship, 1967; O. Henry Award, 1967, for "In the Region of Ice," 1973, for "The Dead," and 1983, for "My Warszawa"; Rosenthal Award, National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1968, for A Garden of Earthly Delights; National Book Award nomination, 1968, for A Garden of Earthly Delights, and 1969, for Expensive People; National Book Award for fiction, 1970, for them; O. Henry Special Award for Continuing Achievement, 1970 and 1986; Lotos Club Award of Merit, 1975; Pushcart Prize, 1976; Unholy Loves selected by the American Library Association as a notable book of 1979; Bellefleur nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize in fiction, 1980; St. Louis Literary Award, 1988; Rhea Award for the short story, Dungannon Foundation, 1990; Alan Swallow Award for fiction, 1990; co-winner, Heidemann Award for one-act plays, 1990; Bobst Award for Lifetime Achievement in Fiction, 1990; National Book Award nomination, 1990, for Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart; National Book Critics Circle Award nomination, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, both 1993, both for Black Water; Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award for horror fiction, 1994; best new play nomination, American Theatre Critics Association, 1994, for The Perfectionist; Pulitzer Prize finalist, 1995, for What I Lived For; Bram Stoker Award for Horror, Horror Writers of America, and Fisk Fiction Prize, both 1996, both for Zombie; O. Henry Prize Story, 2001, for "The Girl with the Blackened Eye"; National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist, both 2001, both for Blonde; Best American Mystery Stories designation, 2002, for "High School Sweetheart"; Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, Tulsa Library Trust, 2002; Common Wealth Literature Award of Distinguished Service, PNC Financial Services Group, 2003; Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, 2003; Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts, 2004.
With Shuddering Fall, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1964.
A Garden of Earthly Delights, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1967, revised edition, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
Expensive People, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1967.
them, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1969, reprinted with introduction by Greg Johnson and afterword by the author, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2000.
Wonderland, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1971, revised, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1992.
Do with Me What You Will, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1973.
The Assassins: A Book of Hours, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1975.
Triumph of the Spider Monkey: The First-Person Confession of the Maniac Bobby Gotteson As Told to Joyce Carol Oates (novella; also see below), Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1976.
Childwold, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1976.
Son of the Morning, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1978.
Unholy Loves, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1979.
Cybele, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1979.
Bellefleur, Dutton (New York, NY), 1980.
Angel of Light, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.
A Bloodsmoor Romance, Dutton (New York, NY), 1982.
Mysteries of Winterthurn, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Solstice, Dutton (New York, NY), 1985, revised edition, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 2000.
Marya: A Life, Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.
You Must Remember This, Dutton (New York, NY), 1987.
American Appetites, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.
I Lock My Door upon Myself, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 2002.
The Rise of Life on Earth, New Directions (New York, NY), 1991.
Black Water, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, Dutton (New York, NY), 1993.
What I Lived For, Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.
Zombie, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Tenderness, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1996.
We Were the Mulvaneys, Dutton (New York, NY), 1996.
First Love: A Gothic Tale, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Man Crazy, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
My Heart Laid Bare, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
Broke Heart Blues: A Novel, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Blonde: A Novel, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Middle Age: A Romance, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Beasts, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2002.
I'll Take You There: A Novel, Ecco (New York, NY), 2002.
The Tattooed Girl: A Novel, Ecco (New York, NY), 2003.
Rape: A Love Story (novella), Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
The Falls: A Novel, Ecco (New York, NY), 2004.
Missing Mom, Ecco (New York, NY), 2005.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM ROSAMOND SMITH
Lives of the Twins, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1988.
Soul/Mate, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
Nemesis, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.
Snake Eyes, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.
You Can't Catch Me, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Double Delight, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Starr Bright Will Be with You Soon, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
The Barrens, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2001.
SUSPENSE NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM LAUREN KELLY
Take Me, Take Me with You, Ecco (New York, NY), 2004.
The Stolen Heart, Ecco (New York, NY), 2005.
Blood Mask, Ecco (New York, NY), 2006.
By the North Gate, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1963.
Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1966.
The Wheel of Love and Other Stories, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1970.
Marriages and Infidelities, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1972.
The Goddess and Other Women, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1974.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Stories of Young America, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1974, published as Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories, Ontario Review Press (Princeton, NJ), 1993, expanded edition, edited and with an introduction by Elaine Showalter, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1994.
The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1974.
The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1975.
The Seduction and Other Stories, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1975.
Crossing the Border: Fifteen Tales, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1976.
Night Side: Eighteen Tales, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1977.
All the Good People I've Left Behind, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1978.
The Lamb of Abyssalia, Pomegranate (Cambridge, MA), 1980.
A Sentimental Education, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.
Last Days, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Wild Nights (limited edition), Croissant (Athens, OH), 1985.
Raven's Wing, Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.
The Assignation, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Where Is Here?, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1992.
Heat: And Other Stories, Plume (New York, NY), 1992.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque, Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.
Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Faithless: Tales of Transgression, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2001.
I Am No One You Know: Stories, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2004.
The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories, 1966–2006, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Women in Love and Other Poems, Albondacani Press (New York, NY), 1968.
Anonymous Sins and Other Poems (also see below), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1969.
Love and Its Derangements: Poems (also see below), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1970.
Angel Fire (also see below), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1973.
Dreaming America (limited edition), Aloe Editions, 1973.
Love and Its Derangements and Other Poems (includes Anonymous Sins and Other Poems, Love and Its Derangements, and Angel Fire), Fawcett (New York, NY), 1974.
The Fabulous Beasts, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1975.
Season of Peril, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1977.
Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money: Poems, illustrated by Elizabeth Hansell, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1978.
The Stepfather (limited edition), Lord John Press (Northridge, CA), 1978.
Celestial Timepiece (limited edition), Pressworks (Dallas, TX), 1981.
Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems, 1970–1972, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1982.
The Luxury of Sin (limited edition), Lord John Press (Northridge, CA), 1983.
The Time Traveler, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
Tenderness: Poems, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1972.
The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1973.
New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1974.
Contraries: Essays, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1981.
The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.
On Boxing, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987, expanded edition, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Eileen T. Bender) Artist in Residence, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1987.
(Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Lee Milazzo, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1989.
Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose, Plume (New York, NY), 1999.
The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2003.
FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2002.
Small Avalanches and Other Stories, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2003.
Freaky Green Eyes, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2003.
Sexy, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2005.
After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2006.
Come Meet Muffin!, illustrated by Mark Graham, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1998.
Where Is Little Reynard? (picture book), illustrated by Mark Graham, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
Naughty Cherie, illustrated by Mark Graham, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
The Sweet Enemy, produced Off-Broadway, 1965.
Sunday Dinner, produced Off-Broadway, 1970.
Ontological Proof of My Existence (produced Off-Off-Broadway, 1972), published in Partisan Review, Volume 37, 1970.
Miracle Play, Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1974.
Three Plays, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1980.
Presque Isle, produced in New York City at Theater of the Open Eye, 1984.
Triumph of the Spider Monkey, produced at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 1985.
American Holiday, produced at the Los Angeles Theatre Academy, 1990.
In Darkest America: Two Plays, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1991.
I Stand before You Naked (produced in New York City at the American Place Theatre; also see below), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1991.
How Do You Like Your Meat? (also see below), produced in New Haven, CT, 1991.
Twelve Plays (contains Tone Cluster, The Eclipse, How Do You Like Your Meat?, The Ballad of Love Canal, Under/ ground, Greensleeves, The Key, Friday Night, Black [also see below], I Stand before You Naked, The Secret Mirror [also see below], and American Holiday), Plume (New York, NY), 1991.
Black, produced at the Williamstown Summer Festival, 1992.
Gulf War, produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 1992.
The Secret Mirror, produced in Philadelphia at the Annenberg Theatre, 1992.
The Rehearsal, produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 1993.
The Perfectionist (also see below; produced in Princeton, NJ, 1993), published in The Perfectionist and Other Plays, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1995.
The Truth- Teller, Circle Rep Play-in-Progress, 1993.
The Perfectionist and Other Plays, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1995.
HERE SHE IS!, produced in Philadelphia, 1995.
New Plays, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1998.
EDITOR OR COMPILER
Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction, Random House (New York, NY), 1973.
(With Shannon Ravenel) Best American Short Stories of 1979, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1979.
Night Walks, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1982.
First-Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1983.
(With Boyd Litzinger) Story: Fictions Past and Present (textbook), Heath (Lexington, MA), 1985.
(With Daniel Halpern) Reading the Fights: The Best Writing about the Most Controversial of Sports, Holt (New York, NY), 1988.
The Best American Essays, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Daniel Halpern) The Sophisticated Cat: A Gathering of Stories, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings about Cats, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.
George Bellows: American Artist, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1995.
The Essential Dickinson, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1996.
American Gothic Tales, Plume (New York, NY), 1996.
Story: The Art and the Craft of Narrative Fiction, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.
The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1997.
(With R.V. Cassill) The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.
(Also author of introduction) Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers, Norton (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Janet Berliner) Snapshots: Twentieth-Century Mother-Daughter Fiction, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 2000.
The Best American Essays of the Century, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2000.
The Best New American Voices 2003, Harvest (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Uncensored: Views and (Re)views (collection of prose pieces), Ecco/HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Otto Penzler) The Best American Mystery Stories, 2005, Houghton (Boston, MA), 2005.
Also author of foreword, Saving Graces: Images of Women in European Cemeteries, by David Robinson, Norton (New York, NY), 1995. Contributor of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review, New York Times Magazine, New York Review of Books, New Yorker, Harper's, Times Literary Supplement, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mademoiselle, Vogue, Hudson Review, Paris Review, Grand Street, Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, and Esquire. Editor, with husband, Raymond Smith, of Ontario Review.
Most of Oates's manuscripts, including her ongoing journal, are housed in Special Collections, Syracuse University Library.
ADAPTATIONS: Oates's short story "In the Region of Ice" was made into an Academy Award-winning short feature in the 1970s; "Daisy" was adapted for the stage by Victoria Rue and produced Off-Off-Broadway at the Cubiculo, February, 1980; the story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" was adapted for the screen as SmoothTalk, directed by Joyce Chopra and produced by Martin Rosen, Spectrafilm, 1981; the story "Norman and the Killer" was made into a short feature; an opera based on Black Water was developed by the American Music Festival Theatre, Philadelphia, with composer John Duffy, 1996; Foxfire was adapted as a motion picture, 1996; Getting to Know You, a film based on Oates's 1992 short-story collection Heat, was released, 2000; We Were the Mulvaneys was adapted as a teleplay for the Lifetime network, 2002. Some of Oates's works have been adapted for sound recordings, including the play Black by L.A. Theatre Works, "The Woman Who Laughed," by L.A. Theatre Works, 1994, American Appetites, by L.A. Theatre Works, 2000, The Best American Essays of the Century, 2001, Middle Age: A Romance, Blonde, and Big Mouth & Ugly Girl.
SIDELIGHTS: For over four decades, Joyce Carol Oates has produced a large body of work consisting of novels, short stories, criticism, plays, and poetry. Few living writers are as prolific as Oates, whose productivity is the cause of much commentary in the world of letters. Not a year has gone by since the mid-1960s in which she has not published at least one book; occasionally as many as three have been released in a single year. Her contributions to the field of poetry alone would be considered a significant output. "Any assessment of Oates's accomplishments should admit that the sheer quantity and range of her writing is impressive," observed a Contemporary Novelists essayist. The essayist added: "Oates is a writer who embarks on ambitious projects; her imagination is protean; her energies and curiosity seemingly boundless; and throughout all her writing, the reader detects her sharp intelligence, spirit of inquiry, and her zeal to tell a story."
A prodigious output means nothing if readers do not buy the books. Oates has established a reputation for consistently interesting work, ranging in genre from stories of upper-class domesticity to horror and psychological crime, but everywhere she reveals "an uncanny knack for understanding middle America, suburbia, and the temper of the times," to quote the Contemporary Novelists critic. Violence and victimization often feature in Oates's stories and novels, but existential questions of self-discovery abound as well. In an era of postmodernism and deconstruction, she writes in a classic mode of real people in extreme situations. As one Publishers Weekly reviewer put it, "Reading an Oates novel is like becoming a peeping tom, staring without guilt into the bright living rooms and dark hearts of America."
In Book Oates said, "I am a chronicler of the American experience. We have been historically a nation prone to violence, and it would be unreal to ignore this fact. What intrigues me is the response to violence: its aftermath in the private lives of women and children in particular." Susan Tekulve in Book felt that, like nineteenth-century writer Edgar Allan Poe, "Oates merges Gothic conventions with modern social and political concerns, creating stories that feel at once antique and new. But she also shares Poe's love of dark humor and a good hoax." New York Times Book Review correspondent Claire Dederer found the author's novels "hypnotically propulsive, written in the key of What the Hell Is Going to Happen Next? Oates pairs big ideas with small details in an ideal fictional balancing act, but the nice thing is that you don't really notice. You're too busy rushing on to the next page."
Oates has not limited herself to any particular genre or even to one literary style. She is equally at ease creating realistic short stories—for which she won an O. Henry Special Award for Continuing Achievement—or parodistic epics, such as the popular Gothic novels Bellefleur, A Bloodsmoor Romance, and Mysteries of Winterthurn, all published in the 1980s. She attracts readers because of her ability to spin suspenseful tales and to infuse the ordinary with terror. As Oates stated in a Chicago Tribune Book World discussion of her themes, "I am concerned with only one thing: the moral and social conditions of my generation." Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote in the Nation that "a future archeologist equipped with only her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America."
Born into a working-class family, Oates grew up in rural Erie County, New York, spending a great deal of time at her grandparents' farm. She attended a one-room school as a child and developed a love for reading and writing at an early age. By fifteen, she had completed her first novel and submitted it for publication, only to discover that those who read it found it too depressing for younger readers. Oates graduated from Syracuse University in 1960 and earned her master's degree the following year from the University of Wisconsin. It was at Wisconsin that she met and married her husband, Raymond Joseph Smith, with whom she has edited the Ontario Review. The newlyweds moved to Detroit, where Oates taught at the University of Detroit between 1961 and 1967. After one of her stories was anthologized in the Best American Short Stories, she decided to devote herself to creative writing.
Urban issues are a major theme in Oates's writing, such as her 1969 novel them, which earned a National Book Award in 1970. However, her early work also reveals her preoccupation with fictitious Eden County, New York, a setting based on her childhood recollections. Betty De Ramus is quoted in the Encyclopedia of World Biography as saying: "Her days in Detroit did more for Joyce Carol Oates than bring her together with new people—it gave her a tradition to write from, the so-called American Gothic tradition of exaggerated horror and gloom and mysterious and violent incidents."
The novel them chronicles three decades, beginning in 1937, in the life of the Wendall family. The novel "is partly made up of 'composite' characters and events, clearly influenced by the disturbances of the long hot summer of 1967," Oates acknowledged. Although regarded as a self-contained work, them can also be considered the concluding volume in a trilogy that explores different subgroups of U.S. society. The trilogy includes A Garden of Earthly Delights, about the migrant poor, and Expensive People, about the suburban rich. The goal of all three novels, as Oates explained in the Saturday Review, is to present a cross-section of "unusually sensitive—but hopefully representative—young men and women, who confront the puzzle of American life in different ways and come to different ends."
A story of inescapable life cycles, them begins with sixteen-year-old Loretta Botsford Wendall preparing for a Saturday night date. "Anything might happen," she muses innocently, unaware of the impending tragedy. After inviting her date to bed with her, Loretta is awakened by the sound of an explosion. Still half asleep, she realizes that her boyfriend has been shot in the head by her brother. Screaming, she flees the house and runs into the street where she encounters an old acquaintance who is a policeman. Forced to become his wife in return for his help, Loretta embarks on a future of degradation and poverty. The early chapters trace Loretta's flight from her past, her move to Detroit, and her erratic relationships with her husband and other men. The rest of the book focuses on two of Loretta's children, Jules and Maureen, and their struggle to escape a second generation of violence and poverty.
New York Times reviewer John Leonard wrote, "them, as literature, is a reimagining, a reinventing of the urban American experience of the last thirty years, a complex and powerful novel that begins with James T. Farrell and ends in a gothic dream; of the 'fire that burns and does its duty.'" Leonard added: "them is really about all the private selves, accidents and casualties that add up to a public violence." Christian Science Monitor contributor Joanne Leedom also noted the symbolic importance that violence assumes and links it to the characters' search for freedom: "The characters live, love, and almost die in an effort to find freedom and to break out of their patterns. They balance on a precipice and peer over its edge. Though they fear they may fall, they either cannot or will not back away, for it is in the imminence of danger that they find life force. The quest in them is for rebirth; the means is violence; the end is merely a realignment of patterns."
Throughout the 1970s, Oates continued her exploration of American people and institutions, combining social analysis with vivid psychological portrayals: Wonderland probes the pitfalls of the modern medical community; Do with Me What You Will focuses upon the legal profession; The Assassins: A Book of Hours attacks the political corruption of Washington, DC; Son of the Morning traces the rise and fall of a religious zealot who thinks he's Christ; and Unholy Loves examines shallowness and hypocrisy within the academic community. In these and all her fiction, the frustrations and imbalance of individuals become emblematic of U.S. society as a whole.
Oates's short stories of this period exhibit similar themes, and many critics judged her stories to be her finest work. "Her style, technique, and subject matter achieve their strongest effects in this concentrated form, for the extended dialogue, minute detail, and violent action which irritate the reader after hundreds of pages are wonderfully appropriate in short fiction," Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Michael Joslin observed. "Her short stories present the same violence, perversion, and mental derangement as her novels, and are set in similar locations: the rural community of Eden County, the chaotic city of Detroit, and the sprawling malls and developments of modern suburbia."
One of Oates's most popular and representative short stories is "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Frequently anthologized, the story first appeared in 1966 and is considered by many to be a masterpiece of the short form. It relates the sexual awakening of a teenage girl by a mysterious older man through circumstances that assume strange and menacing proportions; it is a study in the peril that lurks beneath the surface of everyday life.
The protagonist, fifteen-year-old Connie, is a typical teenager who argues with her mother over curfews and hair spray, dreams about romantic love with handsome boys, and regards her older, unmarried sister as a casualty. One Sunday afternoon Connie is left home alone. The afternoon begins ordinarily enough with Connie lying in the sun. "At this point," noted Greg Johnson in Understanding Joyce Carol Oates, "the story moves from realism into an allegorical dream-vision. Recalling a recent sexual experience as 'sweet, gentle, the way it was in movies and promised in songs,' Connie opens her eyes and 'hardly knew where she was.' Shaking her head 'as if to get awake,' she feels troubled by the sudden unreality of her surroundings, unaware—though the reader is aware—that she has entered a new and fearsome world."
Shortly afterward, a strange man about thirty years old appears in a battered gold convertible. His name is Arnold Friend. Excited by the prospect but also cautious, Connie dawdles about accepting his invitation to take a ride. Friend becomes more insistent until, suddenly, it becomes clear that Friend has no ordinary ride in mind. He makes no attempt to follow Connie as she flees into the house, but he also makes it clear that the flimsy screen door between them is no obstacle. As Mary Allen explains in The Necessary Blankness: Women in Major American Fiction of the Sixties, "his promise not to come in the house after her is more disturbing than a blunt demand might be, for we know he will enter when he is ready."
Oates explores another genre with her Gothic novels Bellefleur, A Bloodsmoor Romance, and Mysteries of Winterthurn. These novels are an homage to old-fashioned Gothics and were written with "great intelligence and wit," according to Jay Parini. Oates told Parini that she considers the novels "parodistic" because "they're not exactly parodies, because they take the forms they imitate quite seriously." The novels feature many of the stock elements of conventional Gothics, including ghosts, haunted mansions, and mysterious deaths. But the plots are also tied to actual events. "I set out originally to create an elaborate, baroque, barbarous metaphor for the unfathomable mysteries of the human imagination, but soon became involved in very literal events," Oates explained in the New York Times Book Review. Her incorporation of real history into imaginary lives lends these tales a depth that is absent from many Gothic novels. Though fanciful in form, they are serious in purpose and examine such sensitive issues as crimes against women, children, and the poor, as well as the role of family history in shaping destiny. For these reasons, Johnson believed that "the gothic elements throughout her fiction, like her use of mystical frameworks, serve the larger function of expanding the thematic scope and suggestiveness of her narratives."
Bellefleur is a five-part novel that encompasses thousands of years and explores what it means to be an American. It is the saga of the Bellefleurs, a rich and rapacious family with a "curse," who settle in the Adirondack Mountains. Interwoven with the family's tale are real people from the nineteenth century, including abolitionist John Brown and Abraham Lincoln, the latter who in the novel fakes his own assassination in order to escape the pressures of public life. In his New York Times Book Review assessment of the book, John Gardner wrote that its plot defies easy summarization: "It's too complex—an awesome construction, in itself a work of genius," and summarized it as "a story of the world's changeableness, of time and eternity, space and soul, pride and physicality versus love." Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Stuart Schoffman called the Bellefleurs' story "an allegory for America: America the vain, the venal, the violent." Wrote New York Times critic Leonard: "On one level, Bellefleur is Gothic pulp fiction, cleverly consuming itself…. On another level, Bellefleur is fairy tale and myth, distraught literature…. America is serious enough for pulp and myth, Miss Oates seems to be saying, because in our greed we never understood that the Civil War really was a struggle for the possession of our soul." Oates herself has acknowledged that the book was partially conceived as a critique of "the American dream," and critics generally agreed that this dimension enhances the story, transforming the Gothic parody into serious art. Among the most generous assessments was Gardner's; he called Bellefleur "a symbolic summation of all this novelist has been doing for twenty-some years, a magnificent piece of daring, a tour de force of imagination and intellect."
In 1990 Oates returned to familiar themes of race and violence in Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. The story tells of a bond shared between Jinx Fairchild, a black sixteen-year-old living in the small industrial town of Hammond, New York, and Iris Courtney, a fourteen-year-old white girl who seeks help from Jinx when a town bully begins harassing her. During a scuffle, Jinx inadvertently kills the boy, and the story follows Jinx and Iris as their lives are guided by the consequences of this event. Encompassing the years 1956 to 1963, the book explores the issues of racial segregation and downward mobility as the two characters struggle to overcome their past by escaping from the confines of their hometown. "Iris and Jinx are linked by a powerful bond of secrecy, guilt and, ultimately, a kind of fateful love, which makes for a … compelling … story about the tragedy of American racism," wrote Howard Frank Mosher in the Washington Post Book World.
In American Appetites, Oates also explores life among the upper- middle class and finds it just as turbulent and destructive beneath the surface as the overtly violent lives of her poorer, urban characters. Ian and Glynnis McCullough live the illusion of a satisfying life in a sprawling suburban house made of glass, surrounded by a full social life and Glynnis's gourmet cooking. When Glynnis discovers her husband's cancelled check to a young woman they once befriended, however, the cracks in their carefully constructed lifestyle are revealed, leading to a fatal incident. American Appetites is a departure for Oates in that it is told in large part as a courtroom drama, but critics seem not as impressed by Oates's attempt at conveying the pretentiousness of this group of people as with her grittier tales of poverty and racism. Hermione Lee, writing in the London Observer, felt that the theme of Greek tragedy and its "enquiry into the human soul's control over its destiny … ought to be interesting, but it feels too ponderous, too insistent." Likewise, Robert Towers in the New York Times Book Review praised Oates's "cast of varied characters whom she makes interesting,… places them in scrupulously observed settings, and involves them in a complex action that is expertly sustained," but somehow they produce an effect opposite of the one intended. "We're lulled into a dreamy observation of the often dire events and passions that it records," Towers concluded. Bruce Bawer in a Washington Post Book World review found the device of conveying ideas "through intrusive remarks by the narrator and dramatis personae" ineffective and "contrived." However, Bawer suggested that although American Appetites conveys "no sense of tragedy … or of the importance of individual moral responsibility," it does "capture something of the small quiet terror of daily existence, the ever-present sense of the possibility of chaos."
Oates reconstructs a familiar scenario in her award-winning Black Water, a 1992 account of a tragic encounter between a powerful U.S. senator and a young woman he meets at a party. While driving to a motel, the drunken senator steers the car off a bridge into the dark water of an East Coast river, and although he is able to escape, he leaves the young woman to drown. The events parallel those of Senator Edward Kennedy's fatal plunge at Chappaquiddick in 1969 that left a young campaign worker dead, but Oates updates the story and sets it twenty years later. Told from the point of view of the drowning woman, the story "portrays an individual fate, born out of the protagonist's character and driven forward by the force of events," according to Richard Bausch in the New York Times Book Review. Bausch called Oates's effort "taut, powerfully imagined and beautifully written … it continues to haunt us." A tale that explores the sexual power inherent in politics, Black Water is not only concerned with the historical event it recalls but also with the sexual-political power dynamics that erupted over Clarence Thomas's nomination for Supreme Court Justice in the early 1990s. It is a fusion of "the instincts of political and erotic conquest," wrote Richard Eder in the Los Angeles Times Book Review.
Oates's 1993 novel Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang recounts in retrospect the destructive sisterhood of a group of teenage girls in the 1950s. The story is pieced together from former Foxfire gang member Maddy Wirtz's memories and journal and once again takes place in the industrial New York town of Hammond. The gang, led by the very charismatic and very angry Legs Sadovsky, chooses their enemy—men—the force that Legs perceives as responsible for the degradation and ruin of their mothers and friends. The girls celebrate their bond to one another by branding each others' shoulders with tattoos. But as they lash out with sex and violence against teachers and father figures, they "become demons themselves—violent and conniving and exuberant in their victories over the opposite sex," wrote Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Cynthia Kadohata. Although Oates acknowledged to New York Times Book Review critic Lynn Karpen that Foxfire is her most overtly feminist book, she wanted to show that though "the bond of sisterhood can be very deep and emotionally gratifying," it is a fleeting, fragile bond.
In portraying the destructive escapades of these 1950s teenagers, Oates is "articulating the fantasies of a whole generation," remarked Times Literary Supplement contributor Lorna Sage, "putting words to what they didn't quite do." Likening the book to a myth, Oates told Karpen that Foxfire "is supposed to be a kind of dialectic between romance and realism." Provoking fights, car chases, and acts of vandalism, the Foxfire gang leaves their mark on the gray town—antics that get Legs sent to reform school, "where she learns that women are sometimes the enemy, too," noted Kadohata. New York Times Book Review critic John Crowley likened the novel to a Romantic myth whose hero is more compelling than most of the teen-angst figures of the 1950s. Legs, Crowley noted, is "wholly convincing, racing for her tragic consummation impelled by a finer sensibility and a more thoughtful daring than is usually granted to the tragic male outlaws we love and need."
Sexual violence invades another upstate New York family in Oates's We Were the Mulvaneys, published in 1996. In sharp contrast to the isolated, emotionally impoverished family introduced in First Love, the Mulv-aneys are well-known, high-profile members of their community: Michael Mulvaney is a successful roofing contractor and his wife, Corinne, dabbles at an antiques business. As told by Judd, the youngest of the three promising Mulvaney sons, the family comes unraveled after seventeen-year-old Marianne is raped by a fellow high school student. Ashamed of his daughter's "fall from grace," proud and patriarchal Michael banishes her to the home of a relative, an action that drives him to the drunken state that results in the loss of home and job. Meanwhile, other family members succumb to their individual demons. The saga of a family's downfall is uplifted by more positive changes a decade later, which come as a relief to readers who identify with the Mulv-aneys as compelling representatives of the contemporary American middle class.
Although, as with much of her fiction, Oates has denied any autobiographical basis for We Were the Mulvaneys other than a familiarity with the northern New York setting and once owning a cat answering to the description of the title family's household pet, the creative process involved in creating the novel is almost as evocative as personal experience. "Writing a long novel is very emotionally involving," Oates told Thomas J. Brady in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I'm just emotionally stunned for a long time after writing one." We Were the Mulvaneys, which at 454 pages in length qualifies as "long," took many months of note-taking, followed by ten months of writing, according to its author. After being chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of her book club editions, the novel became the first of Oates's works to top the New York Times bestseller list.
Throughout her prolific writing career Oates has distributed her vast creative and emotional energies between several projects at once, simultaneously producing novels, stories, verse, and essays, among other writings. In her 1995 horror novel, Zombie, she seductively draws readers into the mind of a serial killer on the order of Jeffrey Dahmer. While straying from fact far enough to avoid the more heinous aspects of Dahmer-like acts, Oates plugs readers directly into the reality of her fictitious protagonist, Quentin P., who "exists in a haze of fantasies blurred by drugs and alcohol and by his inherent mental condition of violent and frenzied desires, thoughts and obsessions," according to New York Times Book Review critic Steven Marcus. Through the twisted experimentation on young men (involving, among other things, an ice pick) that Quentin hopes will enable him to create a zombie-like companion who will remain loyal to him forever, Oates "is certain to shock and surely to offend many readers," warned Tribune Books critic James Idema, "but there could be no gentler way to tell the story she obviously was compelled to tell."
Within her nonfiction writing, Oates's foray into sports philosophy resulted in the book-length essay On Boxing, which led to at least one television appearance as a commentator for the sport. She also submitted a mystery novel to a publisher under a pseudonym and had the thrill of having it accepted before word leaked out that it was Oates's creation. Inspired by her husband's name, in 1988 Oates published the novel Lives of the Twins under the name Rosamond Smith. "I wanted a fresh reading; I wanted to escape from my own iden-tity," Linda Wolfe quoted Oates as saying in the New York Times Book Review. She would use the Smith pseudonym again for several more mystery novels, including Soul/Mate, a story about a lovesick psycho-killer, Nemesis, another mystery concerning aberrational academics, and Snake Eyes, a tale of a tattooed psychopathic artist.
Oates's 1997 novel Man Crazy is a reverse image of Zombie; it tells the first-person story of a "pathological serial victim," Ingrid Boone, who through a rag-tag childhood, a promiscuous and drugged-out adolescence, and a stint with a satanic motorcycle cult, has her personal identity nearly destroyed. New York Review of Books critic A. O. Scott commented that Oates "continually seeks out those places in our social, familial and personal lives where love and cruelty intersect…. Oates is clearly interested in exploring the boundary between a world where cruelty lurks below the surface of daily life and one in which daily life consists of overt and constant brutality."
Published in 2000, one of Oates's most successful novels to date is Blonde, a fictional re-working of the life of Marilyn Monroe. Oates told a writer at Publishers Weekly that, while she was not intent upon producing another historical document on the tragic star, she did want to show "what she was like from the inside." According to some critics, Oates was successful in her endeavor. Booklist contributor Donna Seaman commented that the author "liberates the real woman behind the mythological creature called Marilyn Monroe." A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the novel "dramatic, provocative and unsettlingly suggestive," adding that Oates "creates a striking and poignant portrait of the mythic star and the society that made and failed her." In World Literature Today, Rita D. Jacobs concluded that Blonde "makes the reader feel extraordinarily empathetic toward the character Marilyn Monroe and her longing for acceptance and a home of her own."
Oates's first published works were short stories, and she has continued to pen them throughout her career. Her collections of short fiction alone amount to more work than many writers finish in a lifetime. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that with her short works Oates has "established herself as the nation's literary Weegee, prowling the mean streets of the American mind and returning with gloriously lurid takes on our midnight obsessions." Whether in macabre horror stories such as those in The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque or in realistic works such as those found in Faithless: Tales of Transgression, Oates offers "a map of the mind's dark places," wrote New York Times Book Review contributor Margot Livesey. Orlando Sentinel correspondent Mary Ann Horne stated that in Faithless, Oates "does what she does best … delving into the dark areas of ordinary consciousness, bringing back startling images from the undercurrent of modern fears and secrets."
Oates uses secrets as a diving board for her exploration of a small town's psyche in Middle Age: A Romance, published in 2001. The book opens with the drowning death of sculptor Adam Brandt as he tries to rescue a child. His death becomes a catalyst for the residents of Salthill-on-Hudson, New York. Adam's former lovers begin to investigate his life, dissatisfied husbands become inspired to finally leave, and singles find their soul mates. In Booklist, Carol Haggas approved of the title: "Few caught in the throes of middle age would categorize it as 'romantic,' yet what makes Oates's characters romantic is how well they fare on their journeys of personal reinvention and whether they, and the reader, enjoy the trip." While the book received some criticism for lack of a linear plot, New York Times critic Claire Dederer viewed that as a strength of Oates's writing. "Naked of a compelling plot, in a strange sense Oates's remarkable ability is clearer than ever. We have time to notice the careful construction of theme, the attention to a cohesive philosophy, the resonant repetition of detail." More than one reviewer noted that the ending of Middle Age proves more redemptive than most of Oates's previous fictions. As Beth Kephart summarized in Book, "There is light, a lot of it, at the end of this long book." A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded it is "reminiscent of her powerful Black Water, but equipped with a happy ending, Oates's latest once more confirms her mastery of the form." St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviewer Lee Ann Sandweiss likewise noted that Middle Age is "Oates's most compassionate and life-affirming work to date…. This novel establishes, beyond any doubt, that Joyce Carol Oates is not only [one of] America's most prolific writers but also one of our most gifted."
From the introspection of middle age, Oates moved to the self-discovery of early adulthood in I'll Take You There. Called her most autobiographical novel to date, the book deals with an unnamed protagonist as she comes of age at Syracuse University in the early 1960s. Like Oates, "Anellia" (as she calls herself) is raised on a farm in western New York state and is the first in her family to go to college. Anellia cloaks herself in guilt and low self-esteem, bequeathed to her by her brothers and father. They blame her for her mother's death from cancer developed shortly after Anellia was born. Des-perate for a mother figure and female companionship, the poor Anellia joins a snobby, bigoted sorority where she seems to be singled out for torment because of her finances and lack of grooming. She feels special pain from the antagonistic relationship she has with the sorority's British housemother, Mrs. Thayer. She uncovers Mrs. Thayer's excessive drinking and both of them are forced to leave the house, humiliated.
Still desperate for love and affection, she starts an affair with African-American philosophy graduate student Vernon Matheius. Vernon is intent on ignoring the civil rights struggles of the times, believing that philosophy is his personal salvation. Their relationship is categorized by discord and Anellia also snoops through his life and uncovers the fact that he has a wife and children he is denying. As Anellia deals with the fallout from her discovery and her separation from Vernon, she receives word that her father, who she thought dead, is dying in Utah. She travels west to be with him at his bedside, hoping to gain a sense of familial kinship. In a twist of irony, she is not allowed to look directly at her father, but steals a glimpse of him through a mirror, which kills him from distress when he sees her.
Critics and fans described I'll Take You There as a hallmark of Oates's consistent excellence in style, form, and theme. Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Stanley Crouch praised Oates's "masterful strength of the form, the improvisational attitude toward sentence structure and the foreshadowing, as well as the deft use of motifs." Even perceived weaknesses by some critics are regarded by others as quintessential Oatesian mechanics. In Rachel Collins's review for Library Journal, she questioned the heavy use of characterization and psychological backgrounding that takes place in about the first 100 pages. A Publisher's Weekly reviewer reflected that "Oates's fans will be pleased by the usual care with which she goes about constructing the psychology of Anellia and Vernon." Collins went on to call the book "a bit formulaic," noting that the romance between Anellia and Vernon lacks "the intense sexual energy present in Oates's other works." Booklist contributor Donna Seaman wrote that the scenes with Anellia and Vernon are "intense and increasingly psychotic" and Oates's "eroticism verges on the macabre and the masochistic." Vicky Hutchings in the New Statesman concluded the book is neither "depressing nor dull, but full of edgy writing as well as mordant wit."
Published in 2003, The Tattooed Girl is the story of thirty-nine-year-old writer Joshua Seigl, who has been diagnosed with a debilitating nerve condition. In need of an assistant, he interviews and rejects a number of graduate students, and impulsively hires the vacuous Alma Busch. While it seems like an act of charity, Seigl is increasingly patronizing to Alma, thinking that he has "rescued" her. Alma is described as dim-witted and slow, suffering from a lack of self-esteem and scarred by past sexual trauma, which resulted in the crude tattoo on her face. Seigl, of course, is unaware of Alma's anti-Semitism, which is born of her disfigurement and fueled by her sadistic waiter boyfriend, Dmitri Meatte. As Seigl's health deteriorates, Alma gains psychological strength to sabotage Seigl's health, finances, and mental well-being and eventually hatches a plan to take his life.
While a Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Tattooed Girl "better- than-average Oates," some reviewers found the characterization of Seigl, Alma, and Dmitri inconsistent. New York Times writer Michiko Kakutani said, "The novel gets off to a subtle and interesting start…. Oates's keen eye for psychological detail seems to be fully engaged in these pages." Yet she argued that "the attention to emotional detail evinced in the novel's opening pages—in which she limned Seigl's fears of mortality and his anxieties about his family and work—evaporates by the middle of the book, replaced by horror-movie plots and cartoony characters." In the New York Times Book Review Sophie Harrison noted that Alma, Seigl, and Dmitri's actions "contradict their given characters, and the irony doesn't always feel intentional." The Kirkus Reviews contributor observed that "Oates is onto something with the bruised, malleable figure of Alma," but the secondary figures of Dmitri and Seigl's hypomaniac sister Jet "have nothing like its principal's realness." Even so, Oates continued to receive praise for her style, including a review in Booklist which described The Tattooed Girl as a "mesmerizing, disturbing tale" told with "her usual cadenced grace."
Also published in 2003 was Oates's second book for young adult readers, Small Avalanches and Other Stories, in which she reprises some of her previously published short stories for adults as well as new material. The twelve stories all deal with young people taking risks and dealing with their consequences. As with her adult fiction, Oates maintains her dark tone. School Library Journal reviewer Allison Follos observed, "The stories have a slow, deliberate, and unsettling current." James Neal Webb on the BookPage Web site echoed that "Oates's trademark is her ability to tap, uncontrived, into the danger that's implicit in everyday life."
In 2004 Oates began publishing suspense novels under a new pseudonym. Writing as Lauren Kelly, Oates has been true to her prolific nature. Indeed, the first three novels published under the moniker were released in less than two years. In the first novel, Take Me, Take Me with You, research assistant Lara Quade is mysteriously sent a ticket to a concert. When she redeems the ticket, she finds that her seatmate, Zedrick Dewe is there under identical circumstances. As the story progresses, Lara and Zed's relationship begins to grow, and they eventually discover that their pasts are linked. Reviewing the novel for Library Journal, Stacy Alesi called the story "haunting and beautifully written." Interestingly, a Kirkus Reviews critic used similar terms to describe the second Kelly novel, The Stolen Heart. The critic stated that the novel is "a haunting portrait of grief and psychological fragility." The Stolen Heart begins when Merilee Graf is twenty-six years old. When Merilee was ten years old, one of her classmates vanished and was never found. Sixteen years later, Meri-lee's chance encounter with the missing girl's brother coincides with the death of her own father. Merilee's recollections of the disappearance are then triggered by these events. Although a Publishers Weekly contributor thought the story is "overwrought," they also noted that it is "oddly compelling."
In addition to her fiction and poetry, Oates lays claim to a large body of critical essays, ranging in subject matter from literature and politics to sports and quality of life. Although she has said that she does not write quickly, she also has admitted to a driving discipline that keeps her at her desk for long hours. In an era of computers, she continues to write her first drafts in longhand and then to type them on conventional typewriters. She told Writer: "Writing to me is very instinctive and natural. It has something to do with my desire to memorialize what I know of the world. The act of writing is a kind of description of an inward or spiritual reality that is otherwise inaccessible. I love transcribing this; there's a kind of passion to it."
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Publishers Weekly, June 24, 1996, p. 44; August 5, 1996, p. 430; April 20, 1998, review of My Heart Laid Bare, p. 45; May 17, 1999, review of Broke Heart Blues, p. 55; June 28, 1999, review of Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going, p. 68; February 14, 2000, review of Blonde, p. 171, "PW Talks with Joyce Carol Oates," p. 172; June 5, 2000, review of Blonde, p. 61; January 29, 2001, review of Faithless, p. 65; March 26, 2001, review of The Barrens, p. 60; August 13, 2001, review of Middle Age, p. 284; October 22, 2001, review of Beasts, p. 43; April 22, 2002, review of Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, p. 71; August 26, 2002, Rachel Collins, review of I'll Take you There, p. 93; September 30, review of Best New American Voices 2003, p. 51; February 10, 2003, review of Small Avalanches and Other Stories, p. 189; April 21, 2003, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 36; September 15, Kate Pavao, "PW Talks with Joyce Carol Oates," p. 65, and review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 66; November 24, 2003, review of Rape, p. 41; February 2, 2004, review of I Am No One You Know, p. 57; May 30, 2005, review of The Stolen Heart, p. 40; September 19, 2005, review of The Female of the Species, p. 40.
St. Louis Post- Dispatch, September 9, 2001, Lee Ann Sandweiss, "Oates's Latest Is Absorbing, Life-Affirming," p. H10.
Saturday Review, October 26, 1963; November 28, 1964; August 5, 1967; October 26, 1968; November 22, 1969; October 24, 1970; June 10, 1972; November 4, 1972; August, 1981; March-April, 1985.
School Library Journal, July, 2003, Allison Follos, review of Small Avalanches and Other Stories, p. 134; April, 2005, Courtney Lewis, review of Sexy, p. 138.
Spectator, October 29, 2005, Diana Hendry, review of Missing Mom, p. 42.
Time, January 3, 1964; November 1, 1968; October 26, 1970; August 25, 1980; August 17,1981; October 4, 1982; February 23, 1987; August 31, 1987; January 9, 1989; April 17, 2000, Paul Gray, "The Anatomy of an Icon," p. 82.
Times Literary Supplement, June 4, 1970; January 11, 1974; September 12, 1980; March 20, 1981; January 29, 1982; January 28, 1983; July 20, 1984; March 22, 1985; October 18, 1985; January 16, 1987; December 18, 1987; February 14, 1988; September 15, 1989; August 13, 1993, p. 19.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 1, 1987; July 19, 1987; April 18, 1988; December 18, 1988; April 15, 1990; March 10, 1996; November 5, 1996, pp. 3, 5.
Washington Post Book World, February 22, 1981; August 16, 1981; September 30, 1984; January 6, 1985; February 23, 1986; November 30, 1986; March 8, 1987; January 8, 1989; April 8, 1990.
World Literature Today, autumn, 1996, pp. 959-60; winter, 2001, Rita D. Jacobs, review of Blonde, p. 115; summer, 2003, James Knudson, review of Faithless, p. 92.
Writer, October, 2001, "Joyce Carol Oates," p. 66; January, 2004, Chuck Leddy, review of The Faith of a Writer, p. 45.
Writer's Digest, February, 2001, Katie Struckel, "Find Identity with Joyce Carol Oates," p. 22.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 1, 2003), James Neal Webb, review of Small Avalanches and Other Stories.