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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 West 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; Notable Book designation, American Library Association, 1979, for Unholy Loves; 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, Horror Writers of America, 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, 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.

Writings

FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Big Mouth and 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.

FOR CHILDREN

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.

NOVELS

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, with introduction by Greg Johnson and afterword by Oates, 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, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.

Blonde, 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, Ecco (New York, NY), 2002.

The Tattooed Girl, Ecco (New York, NY), 2003.

A Garden of Earthly Delights, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2003.

Rape: A Love Story (novella), Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.

The Falls, Ecco (New York, NY), 2004.

(Under pseudonym, Lauren Kelly) Take Me, Take Me with You: A Novel of Suspense, Ecco (New York, NY), 2004.

Sexy, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2005.

Uncensored: Views and (Re)views, 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.

SHORT STORIES

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.

POETRY

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 (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, 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, Ontario Review Press (New York, NY), 1996.

NONFICTION

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.

(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.

On Boxing, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1987, expanded edition, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1994.

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.

PLAYS

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, NY, 1984.

Triumph of the Spider Monkey, produced at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 1985.

American Holiday, produced at 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, NY; 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, 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, PA, 1992.

The Rehearsal, produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre, 1993.

The Perfectionist (also see below; produced in Princeton, NJ, 1993), published in The Perfectionist, and Other Plays, 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, PA, 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.

(Author of foreword) David Robinson, Saving Graces: Images of Women in European Cemeteries, Norton (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.

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, c. 1970s; "Daisy" was adapted for the stage by Victoria Rue and produced off-off-Broadway, 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, Lifetime, 2002. Some of Oates's works were adapted for sound recordings, including the play Black, L.A. Theatre Works, "The Woman Who Laughed," L.A. Theatre Works, 1994, American Appetites, L.A. Theatre Works, 2000, The Best American Essays of the Century, 2001, Middle Age: A Romance, Blonde, and Big Mouth and Ugly Girl.

Sidelights

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific writer whose works include novels, short stories, criticism, plays, and poetry. Few living writers are as prolific as Oates, whose productivity has been 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. As a Contemporary Novelists essayist noted, "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." Although many of her adult works feature teen-aged protagonist, in 2002 Oates addressed herself to teen readers with the novel Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, and has also published the picture books Where Is Little Reynard? and Come Meet Muffin for even younger readers. Other novels for young adults include Freaky Green Eyes and Sexy, the last a story about an emotionally confused high schooler who participates in a hoax that threatens to destroy his English teachers's career.

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 age 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 at 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.

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. Relating 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. With an eye to teen readers, Small Avalanches and Other Stories collects several of Oates's previously published stories for adults as well as new material. The collected twelve stories each deal with young people taking risks and dealing with the consequences that follow. As with her adult fiction, Oates maintains her dark tone; as School Library Journal reviewer Allison Follos observed, each of the tales has "a slow, deliberate, and unsettling current," while James Neal Webb noted in a BookPage.com review that the author's "trademark is her ability to tap, uncontrived, into the danger that's implicit in everyday life."

Oates explores another genre with Bellefleur, A Bloodsmoor Romance, and Mysteries of Winterthurn, which together serve as an homage to old-fashioned Gothic novels. While these novels feature many of the stock elements of conventional Gothics, including ghosts, haunted mansions, and mysterious deaths, the plots are also tied to actual events. 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. Bellefleur, for example, is a five-part novel that presents the saga of a rich and rapacious American family that is haunted by a family curse. Interwoven with the family's tale are real people from the nineteenth century, including abolitionist John Brown and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, the latter who in the novel fakes his own assassination in order to escape the pressures of public life.

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 takes place in the industrial New York town of Hammond. The gang, led by the very charismatic and very angry Legs Sadovsky, directs its energy at men, the enemy force Legs perceives as responsible for the degradation and ruin of the girls' mothers and friends. The members celebrate their bond to one another by branding each others' shoulders with tattoos. However, as they lash out with sex and violence against teachers and father figures, they "become demons themselvesviolent and conniving and exuberant in their victories over the opposite sex," wrote Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Cynthia Kadohata. Acknowledging to New York Times Book Review critic Lynn Karpen that Foxfire is one of her most overtly feminist books, Oates explained that she wanted to show that although "the bond of sisterhood can be very deep and emotionally gratifying," it is a fleeting, fragile bond.

Oates' first YA novel, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, focuses on sixteen-year-old high schoolers Matt Donaghy and Ursula Riggs. The two begin a romance after Matt's poor decision to make a joke to his friends about a school massacre results in a police investigation and Matt's ostracism by most of his classmates. Ursulla, an ungainly but capable athlete whose view of herself as ugly keeps her withdrawn from most of her fellow students, takes a public stand by coming to Matt's defense, despite the fact that she barely knows him. "Oates shows the same skill in portraying family dynamics and violence that she has in her adult fiction," commented Paula Rohrlick in her Kliatt review of the book.

Prompting several critics to compare its storyline to the events resulting in the O. J. Simpson trial of the early 1990s, Freaky Green Eyes also focuses on a teenaged girl who must make a choice about whether action is better than inaction. Francesca "Frankie" Pierson is the daughter of a wealthy but abusive sportscaster whom she idolizes. When her mother seems to intentionally provoke Frankie's father to anger by drifting away from the family, the teen becomes resentful, but after her mother disappears altogether Frankie is forced to view the relationship between her parentsas well as her own role in the dynamic of control and violencein a new way. Praising Oates' for creating a "strong, intelligent young woman" protagonist, Kliatt reviewer Claire Rosser dubbed Freaky Green Eyes a "suspenseful story" in which the unfolding drama is "grippingly realistic." A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the novel as a "quietly gripping, beautifully written, impeccably paced psychological thriller," while in Publishers Weekly a reviewer wrote that Oates "builds the mounting tension masterfully, crafting a fast-paced narrative that will haunt readers."

While Oates plans to continue to write for teen readers, she explained to Publishers Weekly interviewer Kate Pavao that young-adult novels would not be a primary focus. "It's probably like a cook, a chef who makes a certain meal and really puts all he has into it," she explained; "then he won't make that meal again for a long time." Still, Oates continues to gravitate to teen characters in her writing for older readers; as she told Pavao, "Adults can live with compromises in a way that children and adolescents find grating. I'm just very drawn to the adolescent personality."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 15, 1987, Volume 52, 2003.

Bender, Eileen, Joyce Carol Oates, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1987.

Bloom, Harold, editor, Modern Critical Views: Joyce Carol Oates, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1987.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 19, 1981, Volume 33, 1985, Volume 52, 1989, Volume 108, 1998.

Contemporary Novelists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Contemporary Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, 1980, Volume 130: American Short Story Writers since World War II, 1993.

Johnson, Greg, Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1994.

Johnson, Greg, Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.

Mayer, Sigrid, and Martha Hanscom, The Reception of Joyce Carol Oates's and Gabriele Wohlmann's Short Fiction, Camden House (Columbia, SC), 1998.

Modern American Literature, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Reference Guide to American Literature, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Short Story Criticism, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1990.

PERIODICALS

America, March 16, 1996, p. 18; November 17, 2003, Richard Fusco, review of A Garden of Earthly Delights, p. 19.

American Literature, September, 1997, p. 642.

Atlantic Monthly, October, 1969; December, 1973; September, 1997, p. 118.

Book, March, 2001, Susan Tekulve, review of Faithless: Tales of Transgression, p. 70; May, 2001, p. 42; November-December, 2001, Beth Kephart, review of Middle Age: A Romance, p. 65.

Booklist, April 15, 1998, Brad Hooper, review of My Heart Laid Bare, p. 1357; July, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose, p. 1917; January 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Blonde, p. 835; February 1, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Faithless, p. 1020; July, 2001, Carol Haggas, review of Middle Age, p. 1952; October 1, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Beasts, p. 300; August, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of I'll Take You There, p. 1886; March 1, 2003, Joanne Wilkenson, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 1108; March 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Small Avalanches, and Other Stories, p. 1323; September 1, 2003, John Peters, review of Where Is Little Reynard?, p. 130; December 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 660.

Chicago Tribune Book World, September 30, 1979; July 27, 1980; January 11, 1981; August 16, 1981; February 26, 1984; August 12, 1984; January 13, 1985; February 23, 1986.

Choice, March, 1997, p. 1160.

Christian Century, January 13, 2004, p. 7.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 11, 1984; April 25, 1987.

Horn Book, November-December, 2003, Roger Sutton, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 752; March-April, 2005, Lauren Adams, review of Sexy, p. 206.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of I'll Take You There, p. 1855; April 1, 2003, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 501, and Where Is Little Reynard?, p. 1201; September 1, 2003, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 1128; February 15, 2005, review of Sexy, p. 235.

Kliatt, July, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, p. 25; September, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 10; May, 2004, Susan Allison, review of Small Avalanches, and Other Stories, p. 31; November, 2004, Janet Julian, review of Freaky Green Eyes p. 47; March, 2005, Michele Winship, review of Sexy, p. 15.

Library Journal, August 1996, p. 113; August, 1999, Nancy Patterson Shires, review of Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going, p. 89; August, 2000, Mary Jones, review of The Best American Essays of the Century, p. 102; April 1, 2001, Caroline Mann, review of The Barrens, p. 133; July, 2001, Rebecca Bollen, review of Faithless, p. 74; August, 2001, Josh Cohen, review of Middle Age, p. 164; September 15, 2001, Rochelle Ratner, review of We Were the Mulvaneys, p. 130; October 1, 2001, review of Beasts, p. 143; September 15, 2002, Rachel Collins, review of I'll Take You There, p. 93.

Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1981; February 18, 1986; October 13, 1986; November 7, 1986; August 7, 1987; January 31, 1988; July 21, 1988; December 9, 1988; April 16, 1990l April 15, 2003, Josh Cohen, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 126; October 1, 2003, Marianne Orme, review of The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, p. 75; January, 2004, Josh Cohen, review of Rape, p. 159; February 1, 2004, Joshua Cohen, review of I Am No One You Know, p. 126; March 1, 2004, Rochelle Ratner, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 126.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 12, 1980; September 19, 1982; January 8, 1984; September 30, 1984; January 6, 1985; March 1, 1987; August 16, 1987; January 15, 1989; May 10, 1992; August 22, 1993; October 22, 1995, p. 6; January 26, 2003, Stanley Crouch, "Picking up Where Faulkner Left Off," p. 3.

Nation, July 2, 1990, pp. 27-29.

New Leader, January-February, 2002, Brooke Allen, review of Beasts, p. 28.

New Statesman, January 27, 2003, Vicky Hutchings, review of I'll Take You There, p. 55; January 19, 2004, Helena Echlin, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 55.

Newsweek, September 29, 1969; March 23, 1970; August 17, 1981; September 20, 1982; February 6, 1984; January 21, 1985; March 24, 1986; March 9, 1987; August 17, 1987; April 10, 2000, David Gates, "Goodbye, Norma Jeane," p. 76.

New Yorker, December 6, 1969; October 15, 1973; October 5, 1981; September 27, 1982; February 27, 1984.

New York Review of Books, December 17, 1964; January 2, 1969; October 21, 1971; January 24, 1974; October 21, 1982; August 16, 1990; December 21, 1995, p. 32; September 15, 1996, p. 11; September 21, 1997, p. 10.

New York Times, September 5, 1967; December 7, 1968; October 1, 1969; October 16, 1971; June 12, 1972; October 15, 1973; July 20, 1980; August 6, 1981; September 18, 1982; February 10, 1984; January 10, 1985; February 20, 1986; February 10, 1987; March 2, 1987; March 4, 1987; August 10, 1987; April 23, 1988; December 21, 1988; March 30, 1990; August 29, 2003, Michiko Kakutani, "Child of Hell Is Plague on His House."

New York Times Book Review, November 10, 1963; October 25, 1964; September 10, 1967; November 3, 1968; September 28, 1969; October 25, 1970; October 24, 1971; July 9, 1972; April 1, 1973; October 14, 1973; August 31, 1975; November 26, 1978; April 29, 1979; July 15, 1979; October 7, 1979; July 20, 1980; January 4, 1981; March 29, 1981; August 16, 1981; July 11, 1982; September 5, 1982; February 12, 1984; August 5, 1984; January 20, 1985; August 11, 1985; March 2, 1986; October 5, 1986; March 15, 1987; August 16, 1987; January 3, 1988; October 2, 1988; January 1, 1989; January 15, 1989; June 4, 1989, p. 16; May 10, 1992; August 15, 1993; February 13, 1994, p. 34; October 16, 1994, p. 7; October 8, 1995, p. 13; March 10, 1996, p. 7; March 7, 1999, Margot Livesey, "Jellyfish for Dinner Again?," p. 29; September 16, 2001, Claire Dederer, "AARP Recruits," p. 7; January 6, 2002, Amy Benfer, review of Beasts, p. 16; May 19, 2002, Lois Metzger, review of Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, p. 32; July 13, 2003, Sophie Harrison, "Now I Have Saved Her," p. 15.

Observer (London, England), August 27, 1989.

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 and Ugly Girl, p. 71; August 26, 2002, Rachel Collins, review of I'll Take You There, p. 93; February 10, 2003, review of Small Avalanches, and Other Stories, p. 189; April 21, 2003, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 36; September 15, 2003, Kate Pavao, interview with 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.

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; September, 2003, Amy Lilien-Harper, review of Where Is Little Reynard?, p. 186; October, 2003, Fransisca Goldsmith, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 174; September, 2004, Jane P. Fenn, review of Freaky Green Eyes, p. 79.

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. 959-960; 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.

ONLINE

BookPage.com, http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 1, 2003), James Neal Webb, review of Small Avalanches and Other Stories. *

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Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

One of the United States's most prolific and versatile contemporary writers, Joyce Carol Oates (born 1938) focuses upon the spiritual, sexual, and intellectual decline of modern American society.

Oates was born into a working-class Catholic family outside Lockport, New York, and was raised amid a rural setting on her maternal grandparents' farm. She attended a one-room schoolhouse in Erie County, a parallel community to her fictitious Eden County where many of her works are set, and displayed an early interest in storytelling by drawing picture-tales before she could write. Oates has said that her childhood "was dull, ordinary, nothing people would be interested in," but has admitted that "a great deal frightened me." In 1953 at age fifteen, Oates wrote her first novel, though it was rejected by publishers who found its subject matter, which concerned the rehabilitation of a drug dealer, exceedingly depressing for adolescent audiences.

Oates began her academic career at Syracuse University and graduated from there as class valedictorian in 1960. In 1961 she received a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, where she met and married Raymond Joseph Smith, an English educator. The following year, after beginning work on her doctorate in English, Oates inadvertently encountered one of her own stories in Margaret Foley's anthology Best American Short Stories. This discovery prompted Oates to write professionally, and in 1963 she published her first volume of short stories, By the North Gate (1963). Oates taught at the University of Detroit between 1961 and 1967. In 1967 she and her husband moved to Canada to teach at the University of Windsor, where together they founded the Ontario Review. Since leaving the University of Windsor in 1977, Oates has been writer-in-residence at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Oates's first novel, With Shuddering Fall (1964), fore-shadows her preoccupation with evil and violence in the story of a destructive romance between a teenage girl and a thirty-year-old stock car driver that ends with his death in an accident. Oates's best-known and critically acclaimed early novels form a trilogy exploring three distinct segments of American society. Critics attribute the naturalistic ambience of these works to the influence of such twentieth-century authors as William Faulkner, Theodore Dreiser, and James T. Farrell. Oates's first installment, A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), is set in rural Eden County and chronicles the life of the daughter of a migrant worker who marries a wealthy farmer in order to provide for her illegitimate son. The woman's idyllic existence is destroyed, however, when the boy murders his stepfather and kills himself. In Expensive People (1967), the second work in the series, Oates exposes the superficial world of suburbanites whose preoccupation with material comforts reveals their spiritual poverty. The final volume in the trilogy, them (1969), which won the National Book Award for fiction, depicts the violence and degradation endured by three generations of an urban Detroit family. Critics acknowledge that Oates's experiences as a teacher in Detroit during the early 1960s contributed to her accurate rendering of the city and its social problems. Betty DeRamus stated: "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."

Oates's novels of the 1970s explore characters involved with various American professional and cultural institutions while interweaving elements of human malevolence and tragedy. Wonderland (1971), for example, depicts a brilliant surgeon who is unable to build a satisfying home life, resulting in estrangement from his wife, children, and society. Do with Me What You Will (1973) focuses upon a young attorney who is lauded by his peers for his devotion to liberal causes. The Assassins: A Book of Hours (1975) is a psychological tale which dramatizes the effects of the murder of a conservative politician on his wife and two brothers. Son of the Morning (1978) documents the rise and fall from grace of Nathan Vickery, an evangelist whose spirituality is alternately challenged and affirmed by various events in his life. Unholy Loves (1979) revolves around the lives of several faculty members of a small New York college. Considered the least emotionally disturbing of Oates's novels, Unholy Loves was praised for its indirect humor and gentle satire.

During the early 1980s, Oates published several novels that parody works by such nineteenth-century authors as Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Bellefleur (1980) follows the prescribed formula for a Gothic multigenerational saga, utilizing supernatural occurrences while tracing the lineage of an exploitative American family. Oates included explicit violence in this work; for example, a man deliberately crashes his plane into the Bellefleur mansion, killing himself and his family. A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982) displays such elements of Gothic romance as mysterious kidnappings and psychic phenomena in the story of five maiden sisters living in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. In Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984), Oates borrowed heavily from the works of Poe as she explored the conventions of the nineteenth-century mystery novel. The protagonist of this work is a brilliant young detective who models his career after the exploits of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. While some critics viewed these works as whimsical, others, citing Oates's accomplished depiction of evil, maintained that they are significant literary achievements.

Oates's recent novels explore the nature and ramifications of obsession. Solstice (1985) revolves around a relationship between a young divorcee and an older woman that evolves into an emotional power struggle. In Marya: A Life (1986), a successful writer and academician attempts to locate her alcoholic mother, who had abused and later abandoned her as a child. Lives of the Twins (1987), which Oates wrote under the pseudonym of Rosamond Smith, presents a tale of love and erotic infatuation involving a woman, her lover, and her lover's twin brother. With You Must Remember This (1987), Oates returned to a naturalistic portrait of families under emotional and moral distress. Suicide attempts, violent beatings, disfiguring accidents, and incest figure prominently in this novel, which centers on an intense love affair between a former boxer and his adolescent niece. Set in Eden County and containing references to such historical events as Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign, the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for conspiracy to commit espionage, and the Korean War, You Must Remember This earned high praise for its evocation of American life during the early 1950s. John Updike stated that this work "rallies all [of Oates's] strengths and is exceedingly fine—a storm of experience whose reality we cannot doubt, a fusion of fact and feeling, vision and circumstance which holds together, and holds us to it, through our terror and dismay."

Oates's works in other genres also address darker aspects of the human condition. Most critics contend that Oates's short fiction, for which she has twice received the O. Henry Special Award for Continuing Achievement, is best suited for evoking the urgency and emotional power of her principal themes. Such collections as By the North Gate; Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Stories of Young America (1974); The Lamb of Abyssalia (1980); and Raven's Wing (1986) contain pieces that focus upon violent and abusive relationships between the sexes. One widely anthologized story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," a tale of female adolescence and sexual awakening, is considered a classic of modern short fiction and was adapted for film. Oates has also composed several dramas that were produced off-Broadway in New York and has published numerous volumes of poetry. In addition, she is a respected essayist and literary critic whose nonfiction works are praised for the logic and sensibility with which she examines a variety of subjects.

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 acknowledges. She no longer suggests, as she did in the original author's note, that her protagonist Maureen Wendall was actually her former student. That author's note, later repudiated by Oates as a fiction in itself, describes the book as "a work of history in fictional form," and asserts that Maureen's remembrances shaped the story: "[The book] is based mainly upon Maureen's numerous recollections…. It is to her terrible obsession with her personal history that I owe the voluminous details of this novel." Although regarded as a self-contained work, them can also be considered the concluding volume in a trilogy that explores different subgroups of American 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 explains 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."

Further Reading

Allen, Mary, The Necessary Blankness: Women in Major American Fiction of the Sixties, University of Illinois Press, 1974.

Authors in the News, Volume 1, Gale, 1976.

Bellamy, Joe David, editor, The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers, University of Illinois Press, 1974.

Bender, Eileen, Joyce Carol Oates, Indiana University Press, 1987.

Bloom, Harold, editor, Modern Critical Views: Joyce Carol Oates, Chelsea House, 1987.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 19, 1981, Volume 33, 1985.

Creighton, Joanne V., Joyce Carol Oates, G. K. Hall, 1979. □

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Oates, Joyce Carol

Joyce Carol Oates

Born: June 16, 1938
Lockport, New York

American writer and poet

One of the United States's most prolific (producing a lot of work) and versatile (producing a wide variety of work) contemporary writers, Joyce Carol Oates focuses upon the spiritual, sexual, and intellectual decline of modern American society.

Early years

Joyce Carol Oates was born on June 16, 1938, in Lockport, New York, the oldest of Frederic and Caroline Oates's three children. The family lived on a farm owned by Caroline's parents. Joyce's father was a tool designer, and her mother was a housewife. Oates was a serious child who read a great deal. Even before she could write, she told stories by drawing pictures. She has said that her childhood "was dull, ordinary, nothing people would be interested in," but she has admitted that "a great deal frightened me."

In 1953, at age fifteen, Oates wrote her first novel, though it was rejected by publishers who found its subject matter, which concerned the rehabilitation (the restoring to a useful state) of a drug addict, too depressing for teenage audiences. After high school Oates won a scholarship to Syracuse University, where she studied English. Before her senior year she was the co-winner of a fiction contest sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine. After graduating at the top of her class in 1960, Oates enrolled in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where she met Raymond Joseph Smith, an English professor. They were married in 1961.

Teaching and writing

In 1961, after Oates earned her master's degree and began work on her doctorate in English, she found one of her own stories in Margaret Foley's collection Best American Short Stories. Oates then decided on a writing career, and in 1963 she published her first volume of short stories, By the North Gate (1963). Oates also taught at the University of Detroit between 1961 and 1967. In 1967 she and her husband moved to Canada to teach at the University of Windsor, where together they founded the publication Ontario Review in 1974. After leaving the University of Windsor in 1977, Oates became writer-in-residence and later a professor at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Oates's first novel, With Shuddering Fall (1964), shows her interest in evil and violence in the story of a romance between a teenage girl and a thirty-year-old stock car driver that ends with his death in an accident. Oates's best-known early novels form a trilogy (three-volume work) exploring three different parts of American society. The first, A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), tells the story of the daughter of a migrant worker who marries a wealthy farmer in order to provide for her illegitimate (having unmarried parents) son. The woman's existence is destroyed when the boy murders his stepfather and kills himself. In Expensive People (1967), Oates exposes the world of people in the suburbs whose focus on material comforts reveals the emptiness of their lives. The final volume, them (1969), which won the National Book Award for fiction, describes the violence and suffering endured by three generations of an urban (city-dwelling) family in Detroit, Michigan. Oates's experiences as a teacher in Detroit during the early 1960s contributed to her knowledge of the city and its social problems.

Oates's novels of the 1970s explore characters involved with various American professional and cultural institutions while adding tragic elements. Wonderland (1971) is about a brilliant doctor who is unable to build a satisfying home life. Do With Me What You Will (1973) focuses on a young attorney who is honored by his peers for his devotion to social work. The Assassins: A Book of Hours (1975) deals with the effects of the murder of a politician on his wife and two brothers. Son of the Morning (1978) documents the rise and fall of a preacher whose faith is challenged and made stronger by various events in his life. Unholy Loves (1979) revolves around the lives of several teachers at a small New York college.

During the early 1980s Oates published several novels based on works by nineteenth-century authors. A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982) is the story of five maiden sisters living in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s and is influenced by the writings of Charlotte Brontë (18161855) and Emily Brontë (18181848). In Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984), Oates borrowed heavily from the works of Edgar Allan Poe (18091849). While some critics dismissed these works, others, citing Oates's accomplished description of evil, maintained that they are significant achievements in literature.

Other works and other names

Throughout Oates's writing career she has distributed her energies among several projects at once. Her book-length essay On Boxing (1987) led to at least one appearance commenting on a televised boxing match. Around the same time, she submitted a mystery novel to a publisher under a pseudonym (fake writing name) and had the thrill of having it accepted. Oates published the novel Lives of the Twins (1987) under the name Rosamond Smith. "I wanted a fresh reading; I wanted to escape from my own identity," Oates told Linda Wolfe in the New York Times Book Review. Though she used the name again for several other books, she resumed using her name with the publication of My Heart Laid Bare, in which she explores morality (the question of right and wrong) during the 1920s.

Oates's works in other forms also address darker sides of the human condition. Most critics feel that Oates's short fiction, for which she has twice received the O. Henry Special Award for Continuing Achievement, best expresses her main themes. Such collections as By the North Gate; Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Stories of Young America (1974); The Lamb of Abyssalia (1980); and Raven's Wing (1986) contain pieces that focus on violent and abusive relationships between men and women.

Later works

In Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990), Oates returns to the familiar themes of race and violence. Other works from this time include Black Water (1992), an account of a tragic encounter between a powerful U.S. senator and a young woman he meets at a party, and Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (1993), which describes the destructive activities 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 takes place in the industrial New York town of Hammond. Oates also had several plays published and produced in the 1990s.

In 1999 Oates's twenty-ninth novel, Broke Heart Blues, was published. In March 2000 Blonde, based on the life of actress Marilyn Monroe (19261962), was released. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. In June 2000 Getting to Know You, a film based on Oates's 1992 short story collection Heat, was released. Oates edited the collection The Best American Essays of the Century, which was published in 2000. Middle Age: A Romance, a novel, and Beasts, a novella (a work whose length is greater than that of a short story but less than that of a novel), were published in 2001.

For More Information

Bender, Eileen. Joyce Carol Oates. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.

Johnson, Greg. Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Dutton, 1998.

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Oates, Joyce Carol

Joyce Carol Oates, 1938–, American author, b. Lockport, N.Y., grad. B.A., Syracuse Univ., 1960, M.A., Univ. of Wisconsin, 1961. She taught English at the Univ. of Detroit and the Univ. of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and has been affiliated with Princeton since 1978. Oates writes about contemporary American life, which she sees as often defined by violence. She is particularly concerned with the connection between violence and love. Her characters are mainly ordinary, inarticulate people who sublimate the terrible things that happen to them. Although some of her novels have been labeled gothic, the violence in them is neither mysterious nor necessarily dramatic; it occurs randomly as in everyday life.

Extraordinarily prolific, Oates has published some 140 books in a variety of genres, among them dozens of novels. These include With Shuddering Fall (1964); a trilogy: A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967, rev. ed. 2003), Expensive People (1968), and them (1969); Wonderland (1971); Childwold (1976); Cybele (1979); Bellefleur (1980); Solstice (1985); Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990); What I Lived For (1994); My Heart Laid Bare (1998); Blonde (2000), a fictional work based on the life of Marilyn Monroe; Mudwoman (2012); and a Gothic mystery, The Accursed (2013). Oates's numerous short stories are collected in such volumes as Wheel of Love (1970), A Sentimental Education (1981), Heat (1991), Will You Always Love Me? (1996), Faithless (2001), Wild Nights! (2008), and The Accursed (2013). Oates also has written thrillers under the name Rosamond Smith, plus poems, plays, children's fiction, essays, literary criticism, and a book on boxing (1988). After the sudden death of her husband in 2008, she wrote A Widow's Story (2011), a chronicle of grief and mourning.

See G. Johnson, ed., The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982 (2007); L. Milazzo, ed., Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989); biography by G. Johnson (1998); studies by L. W. Wagner, ed. (1979), E. G. Friedman (1980), T. Norman (1984), H. Bloom, ed. (1987), J. V. Creighton (1992), M. C. Wesley (1993), G. Johnson (1987 and 1994), B. Daly (1996), and G. Cologne-Brookes (2005).

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol

Pseudonym: Rosamond Smith. Nationality: American. Born: Millersport, New York, 16 June 1938. Education: Syracuse University, New York, 1956-60, B.A. in English 1960 (Phi Beta Kappa); University of Wisconsin, Madison, M.A. in English 1961; Rice University, Houston, 1961. Family: Married Raymond J. Smith in 1961. Career: Instructor, 1961-65, and assistant professor of English, 1965-67, University of Detroit; member of the Department of English, University of Windsor, Ontario, 1967-78. Since 1978 writer-in-residence, and currently Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor, Princeton University, New Jersey. Since 1974 publisher, with Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review, Windsor, later Princeton. Awards: National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1966, 1968; Guggenheim fellowship, 1967; O. Henry award, 1967, 1973, and Special Award for Continuing Achievement, 1970, 1986; Rosenthal award, 1968; National Book award, 1970; Rea award, for short story, 1990; Bobst Lifetime Achievement award, 1990; Heideman award, 1990, for oneact play; Walt Whitman award, 1995. Member: American Academy, 1978. Agent: John Hawkins and Associates, 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 1600, New York, New York 10010. Address: Department of Creative Writing, Princeton University, 185 Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, U.S.A.

Publications

Novels

With Shuddering Fall. New York, Vanguard Press, 1964; London, Cape, 1965.

A Garden of Earthly Delights. New York, Vanguard Press, 1967;London, Gollancz, 1970.

Expensive People. New York, Vanguard Press, 1968; London, Gollancz, 1969.

Them. New York, Vanguard Press, 1969; London, Gollancz, 1971.

Wonderland. New York, Vanguard Press, 1971; London, Gollancz, 1972.

Do with Me What You Will. New York, Vanguard Press, 1973;London, Gollancz, 1974.

The Assassins: A Book of Hours. New York, Vanguard Press, 1975.

Childwold. New York, Vanguard Press, 1976; London, Gollancz, 1977.

Son of the Morning. New York, Vanguard Press, 1978; London, Gollancz, 1979.

Cybele. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1979.

Unholy Loves. New York, Vanguard Press, 1979; London, Gollancz, 1980.

Bellefleur. New York, Dutton, 1980; London, Cape, 1981.

Angel of Light. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1981.

A Bloodsmoor Romance. New York, Dutton, 1982; London, Cape, 1983.

Mysteries of Winterthurn. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1984.

Solstice. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1985.

Marya: A Life. New York, Dutton, 1986; London, Cape, 1987.

You Must Remember This. New York, Dutton, 1987; London, Macmillan, 1988.

American Appetites. New York, Dutton, and London, Macmillan, 1989.

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. New York, Dutton, 1990; London, Macmillan, 1991.

I Lock My Door upon Myself. New York, Ecco Press, 1990.

The Rise of Life on Earth. New York, New Directions, 1991.

Black Water. New York, Dutton, 1992.

Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. New York, Dutton, 1993.

What I Lived For. New York, Dutton, 1994.

Zombie. New York, Dutton, 1995.

First Love: A Gothic Tale, designed and illustrated by Barry Moser. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1996.

Tenderness. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1996.

We Were the Mulvaneys. New York, Dutton, 1996.

Man Crazy. New York, Dutton, 1997.

My Heart Laid Bare. New York, Dutton, 1998.

Broke Heart Blues. New York, Dutton, 1999.

Blonde. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 2000.

Novels as Rosamond Smith

Lives of the Twins. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Soul-Mate. New York, Dutton, 1989.

Snake Eyes. New York, Dutton, 1992.

You Can't Catch Me. New York, Dutton, 1995.

Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon. New York, Dutton, 1999.

Short Stories

By the North Gate. New York, Vanguard Press, 1963.

Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories. New York, VanguardPress, 1966; London, Gollancz, 1973.

The Wheel of Love and Other Stories. New York, Vanguard Press, 1970; London, Gollancz, 1971.

Cupid and Psyche. New York, Albondocani Press, 1970.

Marriages and Infidelities. New York, Vanguard Press, 1972; London, Gollancz, 1974.

A Posthumous Sketch. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1973.

The Girl. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pomegranate Press, 1974.

Plagiarized Material (as Fernandes/Oates). Los Angeles, BlackSparrow Press, 1974.

The Goddess and Other Women. New York, Vanguard Press, 1974;London, Gollancz, 1975.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Stories of Young America. Greenwich, Connecticut, Fawcett, 1974.

The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies. Los Angeles, BlackSparrow Press, 1974; Solihull, Warwickshire, Aquila, 1975.

The Seduction and Other Stories. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1975.

The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (asFernandes/Oates). New York, Vanguard Press, 1975; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. Santa Barbara, California, BlackSparrow Press, 1976.

The Blessing. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1976.

Crossing the Border. New York, Vanguard Press, 1976; London, Gollancz, 1978.

Daisy. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1977.

Night-Side. New York, Vanguard Press, 1977; London, Gollancz, 1979.

A Sentimental Education. Los Angeles, Sylvester and Orphanos, 1978.

The Step-Father. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1978.

All the Good People I've Left Behind. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1979.

The Lamb of Abyssalia. Cambridge, Massachusetts, PomegranatePress, 1979.

A Middle-Class Education. New York, Albondocani Press, 1980.

A Sentimental Education (collection). New York, Dutton, 1980;London, Cape, 1981.

Funland. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1983.

Last Days. New York, Dutton, 1984; London, Cape, 1985.

Wild Saturday and Other Stories. London, Dent, 1984.

Wild Nights. Athens, Ohio, Croissant, 1985.

Raven's Wing. New York, Dutton, 1986; London, Cape, 1987.

The Assignation. New York, Ecco Press, 1988.

Heat and Other Stories. New York, Dutton, 1991.

Where Is Here? Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco, 1992.

Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque. New York, Dutton, 1994.

Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories. New York, Dutton, 1996.

The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque. New York, Dutton, 1998.

Plays

The Sweet Enemy (produced New York, 1965).

Sunday Dinner (produced New York, 1970).

Ontological Proof of My Existence, music by George Prideaux (produced New York, 1972). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Miracle Play (produced New York, 1973). Los Angeles, BlackSparrow Press, 1974.

Daisy (produced New York, 1980).

Three Plays (includes Ontological Proof of My Existence, Miracle Play, The Triumph of the Spider Monkey ). Windsor, Ontario Review Press, 1980.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey, from her own story (produced LosAngeles, 1985). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Presque Isle, music by Paul Shapiro (produced New York, 1982).

Lechery, in Faustus in Hell (produced Princeton, New Jersey, 1985).

In Darkest America (Tone Clusters and The Eclipse ) (producedLouisville, Kentucky, 1990; The Eclipse produced New York, 1990).

American Holiday (produced Los Angeles, 1990).

I Stand Before You Naked (produced New York, 1991).

How Do You Like Your Meat? (produced New Haven, Connecticut, 1991).

Twelve Plays. New York, Dutton, 1991.

Black (produced Williamstown, 1992).

The Secret Mirror (produced Philadelphia, 1992).

The Perfectionist (produced Princeton, New Jersey, 1993). In The Perfectionist and Other Plays, 1995.

The Truth-Teller (produced New York, 1995).

Here She Is! (produced Philadelphia, 1995).

The Perfectionist and Other Plays. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco, 1995.

New Plays. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1998.

Poetry

Women in Love and Other Poems. New York, Albondocani Press, 1968.

Anonymous Sins and Other Poems. Baton Rouge, Louisiana StateUniversity Press, 1969.

Love and Its Derangements. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State UniversityPress, 1970.

Woman Is the Death of the Soul. Toronto, Coach House Press, 1970.

In Case of Accidental Death. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pomegranate Press, 1972.

Wooded Forms. New York, Albondocani Press, 1972.

Angel Fire. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1973.

Dreaming America and Other Poems. New York, Aloe Editions, 1973.

The Fabulous Beasts. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1975.

Public Outcry. Pittsburgh, Slow Loris Press, 1976.

Season of Peril. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1977.

Abandoned Airfield 1977. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1977.

Snowfall. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1978.

Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money. BatonRouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1978.

The Stone Orchard. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1980.

Celestial Timepiece. Dallas, Pressworks, 1980.

Nightless Nights: Nine Poems. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1981.

Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems 1970-1982. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1982.

Luxury of Sin. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1984.

The Time Traveller: Poems 1983-1989. New York, Dutton, 1989.

Other

The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature. New York, Vanguard Press, 1972; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D.H. Lawrence. Los Angeles, BlackSparrow Press, 1973; Solihull, Warwickshire, Aquila, 1975.

New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature. New York, Vanguard Press, 1974; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Stone Orchard. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1980.

Contraries: Essays. New York, Oxford University Press, 1981.

The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews. New York, Dutton, 1983.

Funland. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1983.

On Boxing, photographs by John Ranard. New York, Doubleday, andLondon, Bloomsbury, 1987; expanded edition, Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco, 1994.

(Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities. New York, Dutton, 1988.

Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Lee Milazzo. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

George Bellows: American Artist. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1995.

Come Meet Muffin (for children), illustrated by Mark Graham. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1998.

Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose. New York, Plume, 1999.

Editor, Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction. New York, Vanguard Press, 1973.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1979. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Editor, Night Walks: A Bedside Companion. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1982.

Editor First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft. Princeton, NewJersey, Ontario Review Press, 1983.

Editor, with Boyd Litzinger, Story: Fictions Past and Present. Lexington, Massachusetts, Heath, 1985.

Editor, with Daniel Halpern, Reading the Fights (on boxing). NewYork, Holt, 1988.

Editor, The Essential Dickinson. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1996.

Editor, American Gothic Tales. New York, Plume, 1996.

Editor, Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: Major Works. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1997.

Editor, with R.V. Cassill, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. New York, Norton, 1998.

Editor, Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers. New York, Norton, 1998.

*

Bibliography:

Joyce Carol Oates: An Annotated Bibliography by Francine Lercangée, New York, Garland, 1986.

Manuscript Collection:

Syracuse University, New York.

Critical Studies:

The Tragic Vision of Joyce Carol Oates by Mary Kathryn Grant, Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Press, 1978; Joyce Carol Oates by Joanne V. Creighton, Boston, Twayne, 1979; Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates edited by Linda W. Wagner, Boston, Hall, 1979; Dreaming America: Obsession and Transcendence in the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates by G.F. Waller, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1979; Joyce Carol Oates by Ellen G. Friedman, New York, Ungar, 1980; Joyce Carol Oates's Short Stories: Between Tradition and Innovation by Katherine Bastian, Bern, Switzerland, Lang, 1983; Isolation and Contact: A Study of Character Relationships in Joyce Carol Oates's Short Stories 1963-1980 by Torborg Norman, Gothenburg, Studies in English, 1984; The Image of the Intellectual in the Short Stories of Joyce Carol Oates by Hermann Severin, New York, Lang, 1986; Joyce Carol Oates: Artist in Residence by Eileen Teper Bender, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987; Understanding Joyce Carol Oates by Greg Johnson, Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1987; Joyce Carol Oates: Novels of the Middle Years by Joanne V. Creighton, New York, Twayne, 1992; Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction by Greg Johnson, New York, Twayne Publishers and Toronto, Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1994; Lavish Self-Divisions: The Novels of Joyce Carol Oates by Brenda Daly, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1996; Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates by Greg Johnson, New York, Dutton, 1998; Critical Reception of the Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and Gabriele Wohmann by Sigrid Mayer and Martha Hanscom, Columbia, South Carolina, Camden House, 1998.

* * *

Joyce Carol Oates is among the most able American novelists writing today and belongs in a long tradition of serious literary novelists who also had broad popular appeal, including her American predecessors, Edith Wharton and Henry James, as well as their British counterparts, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, and earlier, Fanny Burney. Some of her detractors have been suspicious of a writer whose productivity is nothing short of staggering, and they have tended to underestimate her talent, complaining of the looseness of her writing, the sensationalistic nature of many of her stories, and her lurid imagination.

Her recent books invite some comparisons with the writing of John Updike and Saul Bellow. She and Updike share an uncanny knack for understanding middle America, suburbia, and the temper of the times. Updike, too, shares Oates's delight in witches, although the two treat their subjects quite differently. Bellow and Oates have less in common, although both see themselves as novelists of ideas and both have written in a comedic and parodic style about the academy. Bellow is a wittier writer and the more elegant stylist. Both authors have very recently produced imaginative accounts of public figures, prompting critics to ponder the motives behind their choice of subject and to raise interesting questions about the relationship between a writer and real life and how those relationships translate themselves in fiction.

Bellow's novel, Ravelstein, and Oates's novel, Blonde, take as their subject Allan Bloom and Norma Jean Baker"Marilyn Monroe," respectively. Both authors made their careers at universities and both fill their books with references and allusions to the world of ideas and literature. Bloom, the real man behind the fictive Ravelstein, was a professor in the Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago and a close friend of the author. He was heralded as the darling of the right wing conservatives when his book, The Closing of the American Mind, was at the height of its popularity. Blonde 's subject is the life of the very troubled woman-made-star and sex goddess, whose screen image circulated globally, receiving more adulation and attention than most any other star in this century. Oates is the latest of a number of famous artists and writers who have chosen to write about or paint Monroe, including Gloria Steinem, Norman Mailer, and Ed Paschke.

Oates's decision to write about Norma Jean Baker is not unexpected. It allows her to immerse herself in the distorted psychosexuality of the woman and write about the sex act with an abandon and graphic literalness that has increasingly become part of her style in recent writings. In Zombie she takes on the voice of a sexual-psychopathic serial killer, Quentin P. With chilling effect, she enters the mind of the killer, utterly devoid of conscience, assuming his stream-of-consciousness. She showed her interest in public figures earlier in Black Water where she treated the drowning at Chippaquiddick. Her taste for stories that make screaming headlines and haunt the public imagination for many years to come is one of her trademarks.

The process of myth making that transforms a life into ballads, legends, and stories has long fascinated her. She is intrigued by cult figures and the way they reflect the subterranean needs of their age. Her propensity to write about seemingly vacuous women, usually illegitimate, self-destructive, spoiled, beautiful, and empty, although often in fact, highly intelligent, has been in evidence since her very earliest novels.

Oates may have taken Marilyn for her subject in order to guarantee herself book sales, but a more important motive was probably her desire to write about a woman whose image as much as any other female star in American filmincluding such greats as Greta Garbo or Ingrid Bergmannhas captured the American psyche and achieved iconic proportions that ensure her a place in twentieth-century cultural history. The subject allows Oates to explore the ways in which a culture invents such icons. She tries empathetically to capture the psyche of the actual woman, whose life has been appropriated by the media and society, exposing what it must have felt like to inhabit her body and mind. This act of recuperation is precisely the kind of challenge that Oates the thinker has always found attractive.

Blonde has sparked a range of responses and in curious ways contributed to the view of Oates as a glib, often sloppy, writer, with too predictable, albeit grotesque and sometimes sleazy, an imagination. The book does have its fair share of anachronisms, inconsistencies, and erratic scholarship. Nonetheless, it brilliantly expresses the inner and outer life of this film goddess/whore and captures the world of Hollywood, California and New York and its school of Method Acting replete with all their personalities. The book's narrative structure is complex. Oates assumes many voices and perspectives in order to show, as Jean-Paul Sartre is quoted to say on the opening pages, how "Genius is not a gift, but the way a person invents in desperate circumstances."

Opening with the section "Special Delivery" in which a package is handed to Marilyn by Death in an early evening in Brentwood, California, on August 3, 1962, the novel chronicles Baker's life as a child, a girl, a woman, "Marilyn," and her afterlife years. It concludes with her actual death, deciding to draw on one of the controversial accounts of Marilyn's last hours. She has Marilyn die at the hands of the Sharpshooter, an employee of the Agency, who inserts a lethal dose of Nembutal directly into her heart. Oates describes her book as fictive, in which she creates the radically distilled "life" of Monroe, collapsing twelve sets of foster parents into one frightening pair, and making other alterations, including her version of Monroe's death, to fit her needs as a novelist. As is her practice, she draws heavily on biographical sources on Marilyn and on the film-industry to give her book a richness of specificity that is characteristic of her best writing. She does not use original material or interviews since a determination of the facts of Marilyn's life is not of paramount importance. She does a superb job of studying film footage, photographs, and the famous nude poster and finding the exact words to call up the image and to describe Monroe's excitement and genius when in front of the camera.

She fully enters into her subject, penning some of Marilyn's poems and constructing the dialogues between Marilyn and her three husbands that have a ring of authenticitythe reader almost believes that these must really have been her words, the way she would talk with the Ex-Athlete, the Playwright, and the President, the names Oates assigns to Marilyn's two husbands, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and her lover, John F. Kennedy. Two other screen presences, The Fair Prince and the Dark Prince, frame Oates's account of Norma Jean's life and explain, mythopoetically, the source of the child's love affair with her Magic Image in the mirror. The little girl sits in movie houses, watching these two enchanted creatures, awaiting their final perfect kiss, fearing there will be no closure, and wanting to be in life what she has seen in the movies, an image that has no other meaning beyond itself. Ultimately, it is Cass Chaplin whose final package to her practices a joke so cruel that only Nembutal can ease her. He is the doomed son of the silent movie star, Charlie Chaplin. It is Charlie Chaplin's dark eyes gazing out of a poster from City-Lights that lit up Norma Jean's world when she lived in squalor as a child with her mentally unstable, finally unfit, mother. This alcoholic, drug-besotted man with movie-star good looks is at once her kindred spirit in the novel and her cruel betrayer.

Bellow states that he wrote Ravelstein to honor a promise to his friend and colleague to write about him and give him immortality. The book also allowed him to more nakedly treat himself in fiction, under the guise of Chick, than he had done before, and it offered him a chance of write of his own near-death experience and his gratitude and love for his young wife. Most important, it expresses his love for not just the character in the book, but for the man whose life became his subject. In this sense, this last book of Bellow's is more revealing than any other. In Oates's case, the motive for the book must lie in her preoccupation with myths and how they express themselves in today's American culture and her desire to redeem Monroe from the unnatural, almost caricatured woman that circulates in late twentieth-century discourse. At a deeper level, her need to get way inside of Norma Jean Baker and her inventions, suggests that Oates's own writings, so full of inventions and fabulations, answer some urgent need to find words that can give expression to some fundamental truthsoften unnamable or unspeakable until a writer finds words for themabout lived experience.

Any assessment of Oates's accomplishments should admit that the sheer quantity and range of her writing is impressive. In addition to her numerous novels since her first, With Shuddering Fall, she has written many volumes of short stories, poems, plays, and criticism. She usually writes about extraordinary people whose fanatical desire to compel life to conform to their vision finally becomes all consuming and self-destructive. Most frequently, these figures are imaginary. In Blonde, Oates totally invests herself in creating the inner life of the quintessential doomed woman, Marilyn Monroe. In all of these books, Oates relentlessly charts the disintegration of the self.

Son of the Morning offers perhaps her most shocking and gripping exploration of this theme. A Pentecostal preacher, Nathanael Vickery, witnesses seven visitations from the Lord, each more terrifying than the last. Nathanael is left with the knowledge that God has withdrawn himself and left him to sink back into oblivion and write the book of himself. In other novels, Oates moves beyond a vision in which man can free himself only through an explosion of violence. These novels work toward quieter endings in which her central protagonists survive and transcend their nightmarish experiences to construct more stable lives, integrating themselves into the social fabric.

In one of her recent novels, Broke Heart Blues, she tells the story of John Reddy Heart, an adolescent 1960s heroa sort of combination of Jimmy Dean, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presleywho is accused of murdering his mother's lover in her bed when he is sixteen years old. The novel covers more than thirty years and is written largely from the point of view of John Reddy Heart's idols. It includes a section where Heart finally unfolds his story, totally reframing the incidents of the night in question. He depicts a very different, and wholly innocent, man complete with his sense of self-sacrifice which has molded his life to the needs of the moment, where he has simply "done what he had to do" and allowed others, also, to "do what they have to do." This novel has all the characteristics of Oates's writing at its best. Her sense of the period is uncanny and done with meticulous detail and a feel for the times, the dress codes, the popular music, the favorite films, and so on. She has an absolute flair for dialogue and a genius for types. Her characters come from an affluent upper-state New York suburb. Oates shows them caught up in each fad of their time. Each represents a type but is delineated with breathtaking originality. There are the boy-crazed screaming teenage girls, the elite, snobby group of popular boys and girls who had started school together in kindergarten, the acne-scarred, pimple-faced adolescents, the plain, pudgy-faced sad girl, the rowdies and the straights, and the fat girl nobody liked who was notorious for keeping her Death Chronicles. You cannot read about these characters without recalling your own teenage years and all the subsequent reunions. The novel's ending is a tour-de-force as Oates chronicles the final thirtieth reunion and all the misadventures as well as successes that attend it. It weirdly echoes the language and structure of James Joyce and Anthony Burgess in a way the reader will relish.

Oates also exploits the macabre. In Black Water, she delves into the consciousness and the experience of drowning in her imaginative recreation of the Teddy Kennedy/Mary Jo Kopechne incident at Chippaquiddick. In Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, Maddy-Monkey, the official chronicler of the gang, shares the secrets and rites of the gang. She dwells on the fateful year of 1956 when their crimes led to the notorious kidnapping and ransoming of Whitney Kellogg, Jr. Their leader, Legs Sadovsky, mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again, or at least the chronicler of the confessions is uncertain that a recent sighting has any validity. An even more disturbing portrait of a deranged mind appears in Zombie, reminiscent of Paul Theroux's shocking novel, Chicago Loop, published five years earlier and similarly offering the stream-of-consciousness of a perverted mind.

Oates's appetite as a writer is as voracious as the will of her most willful protagonists. She consumes and disgorges experience, her own and that of others. She has recast the visions and stories of numerous writers, exhibiting her debt to Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Mann, and Balzac while remaining firmly planted in the American realistic and naturalistic narrative traditions. She has imaginatively entered in the lives of Pentecostal preachers, children of the slums, a nineteenth-century detective, professors in academia, schoolteachers, artists, a drowned woman, and countless others.

Although there are Continental influences, her writing is thoroughly American, after the manner of Fitzgerald and Faulkner, Dreiser, Farrell, and Mailer. Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County is her fictitious Eden County, set near Millersport, New York, where she lived as a child. Farrell's Chicago is her Detroit: Studs Lonigan is made over into Jules and Maureen Wendall in Them. Fitzgerald's Gatsby is her Jules, a man in love with the aloofness money brings, crazily hungry for Nadine, Daisy's counterpart in Them. Oates is fascinated with property and the violence it engenders in those obsessed with it. She struggles to write an American epic, built around a dynastic family that will express the American experience.

Bellefleur is her ambitious attempt at such an epic, an attempt that eluded the grasp of writers whose talents dwarf herMelville and Twain, Faulkner and Bellow. A Bloodsmoor Romance and Mysteries of Winterthurn continue Oates's treatment of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century America. Each imitates brilliantly the genre of the Gothic saga, the romance, and the detective novel respectively.

Oates is a storyteller of considerable gifts. She is also a writer's writer. In her novels of social and psychological realism, she reveals little interest in postmodern experimental modes, avoiding the dexterous verbal play and intricate parodic structures developed by John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, or Donald Barthelme. John Updike and Bellow are writers more to her tastes. She has also embarked on literary projects in which fabulation, invention, and intertextuality figure prominently. In these, her flair for irony and her playful, sometimes nasty, reimaginings of popular nineteenth-century genres are evident, but the novels remain ultimately stable in their meaning. They are not true works of deconstruction or postmodernity. She often writes with a social purpose out of concerns that are moral, psychological, and political. There are times, however, when the violence in her novels seems gratuitous and the work itself seems, finally, immoral. Expensive People is such a book.

Childwold and Cybele mark Oates's shift away from naturalism, with The Assassins figuring as a transitional, experimental work. The assassin who stalks Andrew Petrie, the one-time senator, is Andrew. The murderer is monistic thinking, the willful fixation upon one idea, be it religious, philosophical, or literary. It severs the individual from the community of man, isolating and destroying him. The monism encases its believer in isolation as total as that which Hugh experiences as a paralytic, breathing with the aid of an iron lung, without his sight. Bellefleur and Unholy Loves few books could be less aliketestify to Oates's skill and range.

Bellefleur is a vast, sprawling book that weirdly welds the natural and the supernatural together to create a psychologically and imaginatively plausible history of six generations of the Bellefleur family from 1744 to the present. The book stretches the genre of American Gothic, including history in its domain. Unholy Loves is a tightly constructed, unified book: five chapters, five parties, it lays bare the soul of Brigit Stott, a recent divorcée, member of the English department, and a writer in a university modeled after Syracuse University, where Oates earned her undergraduate degree. Unholy Loves and American Appetites belong with Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim and Iris Murdoch's A Severed Head. Unholy Loves contains scenes of erupting violence, but the general atmosphere is one of forced conviviality. Oates knows intimately the scandals of the university, the ambitions, the bitchiness, pomposity, petty jealousy, and colossal loneliness that are endemic to modern university life.

Marya: A Life and Solstice each extend Oates's treatment of teachers and academics. The first is in some ways an autobiographical book, treating in eleven disconnected episodes the life of a woman from her squalid origins to her rapid success as a writer. Solstice is an absorbing study of an obsessive relationship between Monica Jensen, a thirtyish divorcée and teacher in a private school in the wilds of Pennsylvania, and a much older, widowed, eccentric artist, Sheila Trask, whose self-dramatization and self-destructiveness ensnare Monica, binding her in a relationship as passionate and all-consuming as any Oates had earlier delineated.

Cybele and Childwold move away from the quasi-naturalistic fiction that dominated Oates's early writing. Childwold is lyrical. It is set in Eden County. Nature is mysterious and erotic and, in a Faulknerian manner, Oates celebrates the survivors. Cybele is more disturbing. Edwin Locke is the luckless victim of Cybele, the great goddess of nature who asks for nothing less than the life of this man who falls under her enchantment during his midlife crisis. She is a demanding goddess; he pays her the ultimate sacrifice when he allows himself to be consumed by his own passions. He confuses eros with love and falls. The action of Cybele is similar to that of Do With Me What You Will. However, love redeems Elena in the latter novel, whereas Edwin never experiences it. The narrative angle of Cybele shifts, reflecting Oates's desire to move more overtly into the realm of the demonic and the unconscious which dominate her novels Bellefleur, A Bloodsmoor Romance, and Mysteries of Winterthurn.

Much has been written about Oates's obsession with violence. Rape, incest, patricide, infanticide, self-mutilation, animal mutilation, suicide, wife beating, child abuse, murder, and drowning abound in her fiction. Sometimes the violence is gratuitoustoo often it is sensationalbut more often than one wants to admit, it demands to be confronted. Conceptions are violent in her fiction, blighting the children born of them. In Them, Jules is conceived in a coupling that results in the murder of his natural father by his mother's brother, leaving his mother bathed in the blood of her dead lover and hostage to the policemen whose help she seeks. The violence that marked his conception doggedly pursues him. Hopelessly drawn to Nadine, he finds himself the target of her gun after a night of lovemaking in which he could not satisfy her. Later, caught up in the chaos of the Detroit fires, he kills a man and paradoxically recovers himself.

Nathanael Vickery, the Pentecostal preacher of Son of the Morning, is a child born of his mother's rape. Lacking a father, he grows up believing he is God's child and that his will is not his own. The initiation that rids him of this delusion, leaving him a nullity, is a terrifying one. When God withdraws from this man he has inhabited for 35 years, Nathanael is left without words or gestures. He crawls off the platform where he had been preaching before thousands, numbering himself among the damned. Stephen, in The Assassins, and Jebediah, in Bellefleur, are similarly abandoned by the god of their willful self-creation. In Bellefleur Oates includes every one of the violent acts mentioned above and more. Germaine is one of the Bellefleurs who survives. Her father, Gideon, wrecks his vengeance on his past and his wife when he flies his plane into the Bellefleur Mansion, destroying it, himself, his wife, and her numerous followers. The special child he saves is the child whose chilling birth opens the book. She is born a biological freak, with the genitalia of a male twin protruding from her abdomen to be sliced off by her quick-thinking mother. Judith Rossner's Attachments, seems to have had an unfortunate influence on Oates's already sufficiently grotesque imagination.

A Bloodsmoor Romance is a nineteenth-century romance, narrated by a young virgin and chronicling the "ignominious" history of the five marriageable daughters of the Zinn family settled in the Bloodsmoor valley of Pennsylvania. More overtly feminist than Oates's earlier writings, this book has been described as the other side of Little Women, the tale it did not dare to tell. The style is turgid; the tale replete with the trademarks of historical romance-fainting virgins, a sudden abduction, ghosts, and the unspeakable evils of drink and dissipation. An odd mingling of myth and history, A Bloodsmoor Romance and its successor, Mysteries of Winterthurn, indulge Oates's excursions into Victoriana and humor.

Mysteries of Winterthurn disguises itself as a detective story told by an orotund, male connoisseur of criminal investigations while it probes the mystery of personality and religion. The detective-hero, Xavier Kilgarvan, confronts three bizarre cases, each separated by twelve years. The first begins when he is but a twelve-year-old boy, besmitten with his wayward cousin and caught up in a bizarre series of bedchamber murders, the first being the vampirish murder of a child. The second mystery, "Devil's Half-Acre; or the Mystery of the 'Cruel Suitor,"' occurs twelve years later and involves a succession of butchered factory girls. The third case, "The Blood-Stained Bridal Groom," involves an outbreak of frenzy in a disbeliever resulting in the death of a clergyman, his mother, and a female parishioner. The detective finally surrenders to brain fever and forgetfulness rather than know what Perdita, his wayward cousin, has done. The story dissolves into one of radical ambiguity in which guilt and innocence cannot be distinguished. All three of the sagas of nineteenth-century America are full of ghastly circumstances, authorial asides, quaint, baroque descriptions, extravagances, and morbid preoccupations. All three are pointedly feminist. All are stylistically indulgent.

After plumbing the depths of chaotic nightmares and the annihilation of the self, Oates, in the mid-1980s began to reconfigure her tragic vision, concentrating more on a character's capacity to survive and transcend. She revisits the naturalistic landscape of her earlier fiction but with some noteworthy differences. She continues to minutely depict American cultural history, returning to the era of the Depression in flashbacks in You Must Remember This and fleshing out her description of America between 1944 and 1956, complete with bomb shelters and civil defense drills, the adulation of Eisenhower, the Army-McCarthy hearings, and the electrocution of the Rosenbergs. In I Lock the Door Upon Myself, she imaginatively reenters a turn-of-the-century rural community, recounting the narrative of a willful white woman's defiant flight with a black itinerant water diviner. In American Appetites, the main action occurs in 1986. It is set in Hazelton-on-Hudson, New York, at the prestigious Institute for Independent Research in the Social Sciences, yet the book also captures the flavor of the 1980s. Returning to the vein of Unholy Loves, Oates satirizes the petty rivalries and pretensions of illustrious members of the American research university while she unfolds a terrifying story of an eruption of domestic violence that results in the death of the wife and criminal charges against her husband, the protagonist, Ian McCullough. Foxfire is set in upstate New York and the episodes recalled occur in the mid-1950s. Oates explores the sensibility and dreams of the young, impressionable, wild, bad adolescent girl. The story of the exploits of the girl gang members starts innocently enough but draws them into a world of thievery and prostitution and threatens to destroy them all when they act on their kidnapping plot.

The difference in the evolving sensibility of Oates lies in her handling of the aftermath of the violence unleashed in her novels. In Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, You Must Remember This, and Foxfire, the protagonists survive the brutal events that threaten to engulf them. In the first, Iris Courtney is both complicit in a black man's murder of an adolescent thug and a victim of her father's neglect and her mother's whorish, alcoholic life, and yet she endures to move beyond these events in her past. In the second, Enid, suicidal at the opening of the novel and suffering from anorexia nervosa, survives the protracted incestuous relationship with her uncle to marry and come to a forgiveness of those who hurt her. American Appetites, in some respects one of the most shocking novels she has written, also emerges from its dark night of the soul, portraying an altered man, but one capable of a complex moral understanding of the events that led to his accidental killing of his wife in the midst of a marital quarrel. Madeleine Faith Wirst is expelled from the Foxfire gang, miraculously paving the way for her to return to society, have a short marriage followed by divorce, get a university degree, and pursue a career as an astronomer's assistant, probing negative light in films of identical parts of the sky.

It is difficult to know what finally to say about Oates's reliance on violence. It is integral to her visionand surely, it is all-too-much a part of American life, throughout this century. It rivets her action and often constellates her characters. It does not go away. Often it seems to mar her characterization, leaving motives ill defined and murky. The tensions unleashed by the violence threaten the boundaries of her art. But the violence is often believable and it does not let us forget. It stuns us, makes us wonder how the imagination that so clear-sightedly depicts it can remain so remarkable levelheaded and intact. In a book like Blonde the violence is so convincingly portrayed and so much a part of what we know of Norma Jean/"Marilyn" that it is hard to dismiss its explanatory power. Critics continue to say that Oates is obsessively consumed with violence, reveling in its brutishness, caught in its senseless repetitions, salaciously reveling in its psycho-sexual dimensions, thrilled, somehow, by the recurring theme of domination and submission, discipline and punishment.

Oates's fascination with the sport of boxing has fueled the critical response to her writing that is so often colored by references to her gender and the body image of the woman herself. Black Water provides her with an occasion to reflect on the death penalty and the five ways in which it can be carried out in America. It is too easy and misguided to complain that she writes too much and too easily and that she exploits violence in her novels. She is a supreme teller of tales and her imagination never fails to startle the reader. The scene of domestic violence in American Appetites, the circumstances of the drowning in Black Water, the sex orgies and the nude photographing of Marilyn in Blonde are vivid, unforgettable, and original. The first two novels are importantly about crime and punishment, remorse and forgiveness. The latter scathingly indicts the industry, people, and society that created the circumstances in which a "Marilyn" can be made. Oates's excursions into a world of violence and hyperreality touch something little understood. Now that she is tunneling behind the violence, letting the reader see its mainsprings more fully, she makes clearer the end that justifies the experience. 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.

Carol Simpson Stern

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Oates, Joyce Carol

Oates, Joyce Carol (1938– ) US novelist, short-story writer, and poet. Oates' debut book of short stories was By the North Gate (1963). Her works, such as the trilogy A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Expensive People (1968) and Them (1969), are grim chronicles of violence and deprivation in modern America. Other novels include The Assassins (1975), You Must Remember This (1987), and We Were the Mulvaneys (1996).

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol

Born 16 June 1938, Millersport, New York

Also writes under: Rosamond Smith

Daughter of Frederic James and Carolina Bush Oates; married Raymond Joseph Smith, 1961

Joyce Carol Oates was raised on her grandparents' farm in rural upstate New York. She later wrote that her parents' working-class backgrounds contributed to the "harsh and unsentimental world" of her childhood, where life was a "continual daily scramble for existence." Oates' childhood community was the basis for Eden County, the setting of many of her works. Despite their tenuous existence, Oates' parents encouraged their eldest daughter's creative development and she began to form narratives even before she could write.

After completing her elementary education in a one-room schoolhouse, Oates attended large junior and senior high schools. Upon graduation from Williamsville Central High School in 1956, she entered Syracuse University on a scholarship. She majored in English and minored in philosophy while continuing to write, and published several pieces in the campus literary magazine during her years at Syracuse. In 1959 Oates was named cowinner of a college fiction award sponsored by Mademoiselle magazine for her short story "In the Old World." She graduated first in her class the following year after having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Oates entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison in September 1960 and graduated in June of the following year with an M.A. in English. While there she met and married Raymond Joseph Smith, a fellow graduate student. The couple moved to Beaumont, Texas, where Smith taught while Oates entered the doctoral program in English at Rice University in nearby Houston. She withdrew from Rice to devote herself to her writing, however, after one of her short stories was included in the annual Best American Short Stories. Oates' short stories, which have won four O. Henry awards and numerous other prizes, have always been very well received and are believed by many critics to be her finest works.

Oates' first book, a collection of short stories titled By the North Gate, was published in 1963 to highly favorable reviews. Like her subsequent short story collections, the stories in By the North Gate were carefully selected for their unifying theme. The title story, for example, concerns the devastating effect that the murder of his dog has on an old man. The remaining stories also deal with the line between civilization and brutality.

Her first novel, With Shuddering Fall, was published in 1964 and deals with a naive young woman's stormy relationship with a race car driver. Although the novel received mixed reviews, Oates' second collection of short stories, Upon the Sweeping Flood (1966) was published to wide acclaim. Oates' skill as a writer continued to evolve with her next three novels, a trilogy exploring humanity's desire to live free of economic and social constraints. The third book in the trilogy, Them (1969), follows a fictional working-class family in Detroit over four decades and won Oates the National Book Award, thereby establishing her reputation as an important writer. Many of Oates' works, including Them, center on her characters' use of violence as a tool in their quest for physical or emotional freedom.

Them was only one of Oates' novels set in Detroit, where she and her husband lived from 1962 to 1967 while she taught English at the University of Detroit. Oates' first play, The Sweet Enemy (1965), was produced off Broadway while the couple lived in Detroit. Later plays were either published in book form or produced in a variety of cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New Haven, Connecticut.

After leaving Detroit, Oates and her husband moved to Ontario, Canada, where she became a professor of English at the University of Windsor. While there, Oates and her husband founded the Ontario Review, a book review journal of which the couple are still editors. Oates remained at the University of Windsor for over a decade before accepting a position as professor and writer-in-residence at Princeton University in 1978. She was still at Princeton in the late 1990s as the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of English.

In addition to novels and short stories, Oates has also published quite a few volumes of verse. Her first book of poetry, Anonymous Sins, was published in 1969 and comprised both new poems and those already published in journals like Atlantic Monthly. This and subsequent volumes of poetry received mixed reviews, and it is generally thought that Oates' gifts lie more in drama than in verse. Her novels of the 1970s explore the struggles and triumphs of practitioners of professions as diverse as law, medicine, politics, and academia.

Her short stories of this period, collections of which were published approximately every 18 months, contain equally vivid psychological portrayals. One of her most famous and frequently anthologized, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," was first published in 1966 and is considered a masterpiece of the short story form. The protagonist is Connie, a fifteen-year-old whose involvement with a mysterious older man reveals the dangers hiding just beneath the surface of ordinary life. Many of Oates' short stories and novels have similar characters who unwittingly slip from the mundane into a nightmarish reality lurking just out of sight. Oates herself pays homage to oldfashioned gothics, in which the terror is always hiding on the next page or in the next chapter, with several blatantly gothic novels like Bellefleur (1980), A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982), and Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984).

Oates switched gears in the late 1980s with Marya: A Life (1986) and You Must Remember This (1987). These books are both autobiographical coming-of-age novels set in upstate New York and representing, according to Oates, her rural and urban experiences. One of Oates' most famous works, Because It is Bitter, and Because It is My Heart (1990), is also set in small-town New York and tells of the friendship between Jinx, a black teenager, and Iris, a younger white girl, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jinx accidentally kills a boy who was harassing Iris and the two characters find that it is not as easy to escape their shared guilt and fear as it is to escape their hometown.

Oates wrote several novels in the late 1980s and early 1990s utilizing the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, a feminization of her husband's name, including: Lives of the Twins (1988), Soul/Mate (1989), Nemesis (1990), Snake Eyes (1992), and You Can't Catch Me (1995). Although Oates reportedly claimed to be finished with her pseudonym after completing You Can't Catch Me, she returned to it for Double Delight (1997) and Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon (1999).

In Black Water (1993), which she wrote under her own name, Oates borrows a page from history to tell a Chappaquiddickesque tale of a young woman left to drown by a senator more frightened for his career than of his conscience. Oates was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for this haunting book, which is regarded as one of her finest. In 1994 Oates earned a very different honor when she received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement award for horror fiction.

Oates revisited several formats for the first time in almost a decade in the late 1990s. George Bellows: American Artist (1995) was her first new nonfiction title in several years, while Tenderness (1996) was a new collection of poetry, and Come Meet the Muffin! (1998) was a new children's book. She also continued in her role as editor and compiler of other writers' works with titles like The Essential Dickinson (1996), Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers (1998), and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction, 2nd edition (1998).

An award-winning and highly distinguished writer, Oates has published short story collections, novels, volumes of verse, nonfiction on a variety of topics, plays, and innumerable pieces in popular magazines and literary journals. The diversity displayed by her choice of format is matched only by the topics and characters in her considerable body of work. Her nonfiction works, for example, are on subjects as diverse as boxing, cats, and the poetry of D. H. Lawrence, while her fiction ranges from realistic, autobiographical portraits of everyday life to tales of gothic romance to stories of shocking physical and emotional violence. As Oates herself has said, "I have a laughably Balzacian ambition to get the whole world into a book."

Other Works:

The Wheel of Love and Other Stories (1966). A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967). Expensive People (1967). Love and Its Derangements (1970). Wonderland (1971). Marriages and Infidelities (1972). The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature (1972). The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence (1973). Do With Me What You Will (1973). Angel Fire (1973). Dreaming America (1973). Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction (editor, 1973). The Goddess and Other Women (1974). Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Stories of Young America (1974). The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies (1974). Love and Its Derangements and Other Poems (1974). New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature (1974). Miracle Play (1974). The Assassins: A Book of Hours (1975). The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (1975). The Seduction and Other Stories (1975). The Fabulous Beasts (1975). Triumph of the Spider Monkey (1976). Childwold (1976). Crossing the Border: Fifteen Tales (1976). Night Side: Eighteen Tales (1977). Season of Peril (1977). Son of the Morning (1978). All the Good People I've Left Behind (1978). Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money (1978). The Stepfather (1978). Unholy Loves (1979). Cybele (1979). Best American Short Stories of 1979 (editor, 1979). The Lamb of Abyssalia (1980). Three Plays (1980). Angel of Light (1981). A Sentimental Education (1981). Celestial Timepiece (1981). Contraries: Essays (1981). Night Walks (editor, 1982). Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems, 1970-1972 (1982). First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft (editor,1983). The Luxury of Sin (1983). The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews (1983). Last Days (1984). Wild Nights (1985). Solstice (1985). Story: Fictions Past and Present (editor, 1985). Raven's Wing (1986). On Boxing (1987). Artist in Residence (1987). The Assignation (1988). (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities (1988). Reading the Fights: The Best Writing About the Most Controversial of Sports (editor, 1988). Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989). American Appetites (1989). Time Traveler (1989). Lock the Door Upon Myself (1990). The Rise of Life on Earth (1991). In Darkest America: Two Plays (1991). I Stand Before You Naked (1991). Twelve Plays (1991). The Best American Essays (editor, 1991). Where Is Here? (1992). Heat (1992). The Sophisticated Cat: A Gathering of Stories, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings about Cats (editor, 1992). The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (editor, 1992). Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (1993). Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories (1993). What I Lived For (1994). Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (1994). Zombie (1995). Will You Always Love Me? (1995). The Perfectionist and Other Plays (1995). Demon and Other Tales (1996). First Love (1996). We Were the Mulvaneys (1996). American Gothic Tales (editor,1996). Man Crazy (1997). My Heart Laid Bare (1998). Collector of Hearts (1998). Tales of H. P. Lovecraft (editor, 1998). Broke Heart Blues (1999).

Bibliography:

Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989). Joyce Carol Oates: An Annotated Bibliography (1986). Bellamy, J. D., ed., The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers (1974). Creighton, J. V., Joyce Carol Oates (1979). Friedman, E. G., Joyce Carol Oates (1980). Grant, M. K., The Tragic Vision of Joyce Carol Oates (1978). Johnson, G., Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates (1999). Wagner, L. W., ed., Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates (1979). Waller, G. F., Dreaming America: Obsession and Transcendence in the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates (1978).

Reference works:

Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature (1991). CANR (1989, 1995). CBY (1970, 1994). CLC 19 (1981), 33 (1985), 52 (1989). DLB 2 (1978), 5 (1980). DLBY (1981). Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition (1998). FC (1990). MTCW (1991).

Other references:

AL (1971, 1977). Boston Phoenix (June 1992). Commonweal (5 Dec. 1969). Critique 15 (1973). Georgia Review (Winter 1988). Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 1983). New Statesman and Society (1 Sept. 1989). NYTBR (28 Sept.1969). Paris Review 74 (1978).

—LEAH J. SPARKS

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol


Pseudonyms: Rosamond Smith; Fernandes/Oates. Nationality: American. Born: Millersport, New York, 16 June 1938. Education: Syracuse University, New York, 1956–60, B.A. in English 1960 (Phi Beta Kappa); University of Wisconsin, Madison, M.A. in English 1961; Rice University, Houston, 1961. Family: Married Raymond J. Smith in 1961. Career: Instructor, 1961–65, and assistant professor of English, 1965–67, University of Detroit; member of the department of English, University of Windsor, Ontario, 1967–78. Since 1978 writer-in-residence, and currently Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor, Princeton University, New Jersey. Since 1974 publisher, with Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review, Windsor, later Princeton. Awards: National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1966, 1968; Guggenheim fellowship, 1967; O. Henry award, 1967, 1973, and Special Award for Continuing Achievement, 1970, 1986; Rosenthal award, 1968; National Book award, 1970; Rea award, for short story, 1990; Heideman award, for one-act plays, 1990; Bobst Lifetime Achievement award, 1990; Walt Whitman award, 1995; Fisk Fiction prize, 1996, for Zombie. Member: American Academy, 1978. Agent: John Hawkins, 71 West 23rd Street, Suite 1600, New York, New York 10010. Address: Princeton University, Creative Writing Department, 185 Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, U.S.A.

Publications

Poetry

Women in Love and Other Poems. New York, Albondocani Press, 1968.

Anonymous Sins and Other Poems. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1969.

Love and Its Derangements. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1970.

Wooded Forms. New York, Albondocani Press, 1972.

Angel Fire. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1973.

Dreaming America and Other Poems. New York, Aloe Editions, 1973.

The Fabulous Beasts. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1975Seasons of Peril. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1977.

Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1978.

Celestial Timepiece. Dallas, Pressworks, 1980.

Nightless Nights: Nine Poems. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1981.

Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems 1970–1982. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1982.

Luxury of Sin. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1984.

The Time Traveller: Poems 1983–1989. New York, Dutton, 1989.

Plays

The Sweet Enemy (produced New York, 1965).

Sunday Dinner (produced New York, 1970).

Ontological Proof of My Existence, music by George Prideaux(produced New York, 1972). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Miracle Play (produced New York, 1979). Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1974.

Daisy (produced New York, 1980).

Three Plays (includes Ontological Proof of My Existence, Miracle Play, The Triumph of the Spider Monkey). Windsor, Ontario Review Press, 1980.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey, from her own story (produced Los Angeles, 1985). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Presque Isle, music by Paul Shapiro (produced New York, 1982).

Lechery, in Faustus in Hell (produced Princeton, New Jersey, 1985).

In Darkest America (Tone Clusters and The Eclipse) (produced Louisville, Kentucky, 1990; The Eclipse produced New York, 1990).

American Holiday (produced Los Angeles, 1990).

Twelve Plays. New York, Dutton, 1991.

I Stand Before You Naked (produced New York, 1991).

How Do You Like Your Meat? (produced New Haven, Connecticut, 1991).

Black (produced Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1992).

Gulf War (produced New York, 1992).

The Secret Mirror (produced Philadelphia, 1992).

The Rehearsal (produced New York, 1993).

The Perfectionist (produced Princeton, New Jersey, 1993). Included in The Perfectionist and Other Plays. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1995.

The Truth-Teller (produced New York, 1995).

Here She Is! (produced Philadelphia, 1995).

New Plays. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1998.

Novels

With Shuddering Fall. New York, Vanguard Press, 1964; London, Cape, 1965.

A Garden of Earthly Delights. New York, Vanguard Press, 1967;London, Gollancz, 1970.

Expensive People. New York, Vanguard Press, 1968; London, Gollancz, 1969.

Them. New York, Vanguard Press, 1969; London, Gollancz, 1971.

Wonderland. New York, Vanguard Press, 1971; London, Gollancz, 1972.

Do with Me What You Will. New York, Vanguard Press, 1973;London, Gollancz, 1974.

The Assassins: A Book of Hours. New York, Vanguard Press, 1975.

Childwold. New York, Vanguard Press, 1976; London, Gollancz, 1977.

Son of the Morning. New York, Vanguard Press, 1978; London, Gollancz, 1979.

Unholy Loves. New York, Vanguard Press, 1979; London, Gollancz, 1980.

Cybele. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1979.

Angel of Light. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1981.

Bellefleur. New York, Dutton, 1980; London, Cape, 1981.

A Bloodsmoor Romance. New York, Dutton, 1982; London, Cape, 1983.

Mysteries of Winterthurn. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1984.

Solstice. New York, Dutton, and London, Cape, 1985.

Marya: A Life. New York, Dutton, 1986; London, Cape, 1987.

You Must Remember This. New York, Dutton, 1987; London, Macmillan, 1988.

Lives of the Twins (as Rosamond Smith). New York, Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Soul-Mate (as Rosamond Smith). New York, Dutton, 1989.

American Appetites. New York, Dutton, and London, Macmillan, 1989.

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. New York, Dutton, 1990.

Snake Eyes (as Rosamond Smith). New York, Dutton, 1992.

Black Water. New York, Dutton, 1992.

Foxfire. New York, Dutton, 1993.

What I Lived For. New York, Dutton, 1994.

Zombie. New York, Dutton, 1995.

You Can't Catch Me (as Rosamond Smith). New York, Dutton, 1995.

First Love: A Gothic Tale. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1996.

Tenderness. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1996.

We Were the Mulvaneys. New York, Dutton, 1996.

Double Delight (as Rosamond Smith). New York, Dutton, 1997.

Man Crazy. New York, Dutton, 1997; London, Virago, 1998.

My Heart Laid Bare. New York, Plume, 1998.

Broke Heart Blues: A Novel. New York, Dutton, and London, Virago, 1999.

Blonde. New York, Echo Press, 1999; London, Fourth Estate, 2000.

Short Stories

By the North Gate. New York, Vanguard Press, 1963.

Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories. New York, Vanguard Press, 1966; London, Gollancz, 1973.

The Wheel of Love. New York, Vanguard Press, 1970; London, Gollancz, 1971.

Cupid and Psyche. New York, Albondocani Press, 1970.

Marriages and Infidelities. New York, Vanguard Press, 1972; London, Gollancz, 1974.

A Posthumous Sketch. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1973.

The Girl. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pomegranate Press, 1974.

Plagiarized Material (as Fernandes/Oates). Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1974.

The Goddess and Other Women. New York, Vanguard Press, 1974;London, Gollancz, 1975.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Stories of Young America. Greenwich, Connecticut, Fawcett, 1974.

The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1974; Solihull, Warwickshire, Aquila, 1975.

The Seduction and Other Stories. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1975.

The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (as Fernandes/Oates). New York, Vanguard Press, 1975; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1976.

Crossing the Border. New York, Vanguard Press, 1976; London, Gollancz, 1978.

Night-Side. New York, Vanguard Press, 1977; London, Gollancz, 1979.

A Sentimental Education (single story). Los Angeles, Sylvester and Orphanos, 1978.

The Step-Father. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1978.

All the Good People I've Left Behind. Santa Barbara, California, Black Sparrow Press, 1979.

Queen of the Night. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1979.

The Lamb of Abyssalia. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pomegranate Press, 1979.

A Middle-Class Education. New York, Albondocani Press, 1980.

A Sentimental Education (collection). New York, Dutton, 1980;London, Cape, 1981.

Last Day. New York, Dutton, 1984; London, Cape, 1985.

Wild Saturday and Other Stories. London, Dent, 1984.

Wild Nights. Athens, Ohio, Croissant, 1985.

Raven's Wing. New York, Dutton, 1986; London, Cape, 1987.

The Assignation. New York, Ecco Press, 1988.

Heat and Other Stories. New York, Dutton, 1991.

Where Is Here? Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1992.

Haunted Tales of the Grotesque. New York, Dutton, 1994.

Will You Always Love Me? And Other Stories. New York, Dutton, 1995.

The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque. New York, Dutton, 1998.

Other

The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature. New York, Vanguard Press, 1972; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence. Los Angeles, Black Sparrow Press, 1973; Solihull, Warwickshire, Aquila, 1975.

New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature. New York, Vanguard Press, 1974; London, Gollancz, 1976.

The Stone Orchard. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1980.

Contraries: Essays. New York, Oxford University Press, 1981.

The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews. New York, Dutton, 1983.

Funland. Concord, New Hampshire, Ewert, 1983.

On Boxing, photographs by John Ranard. New York, Doubleday, and London, Bloomsbury, 1987; expanded edition, Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1994.

(Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities. New York, Dutton, 1988.

Come Meet Muffin. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1998.

Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose. New York, Plume, 1999.

Editor, Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction. New York, Vanguard Press, 1973.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1979. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Editor, Night Walks: A Bedside Companion. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1982.

Editor, First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft. Princeton, New Jersey, Ontario Review Press, 1983.

Editor, with Boyd Litzinger, Story: Fictions Past and Present. Lexington, Massachusetts, Heath, 1985.

Editor, with Daniel Halpern, Reading the Fights (on boxing). New York, Holt, 1988.

Editor, The Best American Essays. N.p., Ticknor and Fields, 1991.

Editor, with Daniel Halpern, The Sophisticated Cat: A Gathering of Stories, poems, and Miscellaneous Writings about Cats. New York, Dutton, 1992.

Editor, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992.

Editor, George Bellows: American Artist. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1995.

Editor, The Essential Dickinson. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1996.

Editor, American Gothic Tales. New York, Plume, 1996.

Editor, Story: The Art and the Craft of Narrative Fiction. New York, Norton, 1997.

Editor, The Best of H.P. Lovecraft. Hopewell, New Jersey, Ecco Press, 1997.

Editor, with R.V. Cassill, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. New York, Norton, 1997.

Editor, Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers. New York, Norton, 1997.

*

Bibliography: Joyce Carol Oates: An Annotated Bibliography by Francine Lercangé, New York, Garland, 1986.

Manuscript Collection: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York.

Critical Studies: The Tragic Vision of Joyce Carol Oates by Mary Kathryn Grant, Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Press, 1978; Joyce Carol Oates by Joanne V. Creighton, Boston, Twayne, 1979; Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates edited by Linda W. Wagner, Boston, Hall, 1979; Dreaming America: Obsession and Transcendence in the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates by G.F. Waller, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 1979; Joyce Carol Oates by Ellen G. Friedman, New York, Ungar, 1980; Joyce Carol Oates's Short Stories: Between Tradition and Innovation by Katherine Bastian, Bern, Switzerland, Lang, 1983; Isolation and Contact: A Study of Character Relationships in Joyce Carol Oates's Short Stories 1963–1980 by Torborg Norman, Gothenburg, Studies in English, 1984; Joyce Carol Oates: Artist in Residence by Eileen Teper Bender, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987; Understanding Joyce Carol Oates by Greg Johnson, Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1987; Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Lee Milazzo, Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

*  *  *

Reviewers of Joyce Carol Oates's first poetry collection called her work "apocalyptic" and "savage," adjectives that remain valid for her poetic canon. There are no lyric forms in Oates's work, and the poems do not tolerate surface readings or pregnant pauses. They evoke no tenderness or nostalgia. Each pierces the reader's sensibility, often with literal images of bodily penetration or destruction. Although they are intensely personal poems, many of which have furnished controlling metaphors or significant images in Oates's fiction, they stand independently, and the reader's struggle to understand them is like augury using one's own entrails. Almost always the persona is a victim—women, children, blue-collar males, semiliterate rural families—incapable of expressing the terrible intersection of personal and historic, public and private existence, and it is this that gives rise to the grief of the poem. There are silent voices too, for example, the autistic child and the mummified child bride in Invisible Woman.

Oates forges her disturbing visions through the sheer discipline of language and clarity of image, relying only on assonance and alliteration to heighten it. Even when a poem deliberately evokes the work of another poet, she shuns the poetic devices of the original and often inverts its vision, as demonstrated, for example, by the echoes of Emily Dickinson in "After Love a Formal Feeling Comes."

The isolated state of the individual is a given in Oates's poems and cuts across the thematic concerns. "Vanity," the nearly conventional poem that closes Anonymous Sins, adumbrates this isolation. Evoking the refrain of Ecclesiastes, the poem concludes, "The beloved is a cage / you cannot enter. Others can enter cheaply."

The vulnerability of children and the collusion of adults with the hostile forces that threaten them are frequent themes. In Anonymous Sins the cycle of songs "Three Dances of Death" echoes Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience. In "American Morocco" an obese child, ridiculed by her parents' guests, accompanies them on a tour of the family's bomb shelter, a replica of El Morocco so secure that "Christ could not raise us / from our safe tinkly tomb." In "Happy Song: Not for Adults" a child trying frantically to please her parents becomes "… segments of bone / strained beyond your knowledge." "Back Country," in Invisible Woman, begins with a drunken father shooting his children's dog, which suffers, howls, bleeds, and is at last buried by neighbors. Fearful of the man, the neighbors rationalize his violence—both to the dog and to his own family—with "these things happen, / Dogs get in the way." The perceiving child understands that children do too.

The destructive quality of love between a man and a woman is a constant in Oates's poems. Rendered in images of fusion and decomposition, it is most frequently represented in Love and Its Derangements, where "Growing Together" uses a terrifying pun to present the progress of a sexual marathon that leaves the couple with hair grown into one another's bodies and with toenails "… outlined in harmless old dirt [that] scrape against all our legs / for weeks." In "Giving Oneself a Form Again" a woman who has withdrawn from a period of intense sensuality seeks the Wordsworthian shape of a childhood soul, but she finds that after carnal knowledge "the child will not be touched." She then retreats into autoeroticism, in which, at orgasm, "like wasps the blood flares / and subsides" and the outline of her isolate body is like "… iron spikes of fences / beside sidewalks of ice."

The narrative unity of Angel Fire compels the reader to recognize Oates's vision that all love is rooted in a desire for annihilation. "The Still Small Voice behind the Great Romances" charts the persona's realization that her search for romantic love has been a desire "to see the sun slide over the edge / of the continent!—I always wanted that urgency / at the edge of satiation." In "How I Became Fiction" the female finds that even the stares of men, which once defined her, are gone—"… no darkness / would recover them, no alley make them male again"—and she becomes, as the males who once stared at her have become, only the character in a narration that is their hospital records. In "Prophecies" the long awaited lover is imagined as a devourer who cannot be tamed by physical beauty or by possessions and whose recognition as such lies just outside consciousness, at the edge of the eye. "Iris into Eye," the final poem of Angel Fire, which is used as an epigraph in the novel Wonderland, brings all of the buried knowledge into consciousness as the perceiver is forced to enter her own history.

The Fabulous Beasts experiments with the inclusion of two long prose pieces, but it is the shorter and more conventional Oates poems that contribute most to achieving the stated intention of revealing the relationship between the individual and an all-inclusive whole, the fabulous beast of history and nature. There is a fine poem to Sylvia Plath, "Mourning and Melancholia …" and another that honors Plath with a turn on her own lines. "Lies Lovingly Told" observes that "every man adores / the woman who adores / the Fascist." The title poem is a vision of Yeats's rough beast, slouching toward the newsroom, indifferent to the historical location of the carnage in the grainy photographs that will be printed and that could be scenes from North Africa in 1939 or from Southeast Asia in 1968. This closing poem and two others, "In Case of Accidental Death" and "In the Air," suggest a transition to the more public poems that appear in Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money and in Invisible Woman, and they are among the finest works from Oates's hand. "In Case of Accidental Death" explores the insularity that sanctifies terrible events with the religious platitude that "it is somehow good" and because "being local is also a tradition / in this country." The resigned view of random violence in the poem echoes Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts":

But perhaps there will be ditchwater
and spiky tart-smelling weeds
and overhead a heavy airliner
with passengers marveling
at the landscape
and an unswervable destination.

"In the Air" recounts the razing of an old house in images of atomic explosions: "The cellar rises / into daylight [revealing] the earth and its undigested things / we hoped no one outside the family / would ever see."

Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money continues familiar themes and techniques. Here again are the grim round of materialism and the violent embraces of lovers, devoid of any sign that they can be transcended. A number of the poems—for example, "After Sunset," "Guilt," "Skyscape," and "The Suicide"—pivot on the tension between a concretely recalled event and the persona's struggle to extract meaning from it, but the tendency of the previous volume to explore public events expands. "Public Outcry" and "American Independence" present the media's tendency to invite public statements from the uninformed on the insignificant and to consume in a manner that transforms everything "… to human heat, human flesh / human waste."

Invisible Woman includes an epilogue of fourteen poems previously collected but excludes any from Anonymous Sins, the first collection. Oates indicates here that she has chosen to reprint only those poems that best support the volume's theme of the invisibility of our deepest identity. The newly collected poems once again use familiar techniques to explore the constant themes, but there is a growth marked by the powerful distillation of the earlier treatments. The hand-to-mouth struggle and the outrageous expectations of American blue-collar life that required a dozen poems in Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money are conveyed more powerfully by a single poem, "Jesus, Heal Me," a poem in which union meetings, layoffs, time clocks, and reusable brown lunch bags are juxtaposed with the redemption of a new covenant whose revelation is sought in the columns of lottery winners. The greater depth with which early themes are explored is evident in the four-line poem "A Miniature Passion," where the wasp sting-orgasm of "Giving Oneself a Form Again" has become "… so deep, / all my flesh was crater to it."

Finally, this excellent volume provides a vision of the male and female life, the private and the historically implicated life, in coexistence. "Celestial Timepiece," a quilt that provides an organizing metaphor in the novel Bellefleur, presents the history of quilt making as a woman creating a map of her world. While men are off fighting on a map of death, homeless and in hospitals, women produce "… an entire world stitched to perfection." This can be hung on the wall like a conqueror's map and convey to those who touch it a history of frugal, fruitful domesticity: "Your fingers read it like Braille."

—Rose Marie Burwell

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol

Pseudonym: Rosamond Smith. Nationality: American. Born: Millersport, New York, 16 June 1938. Education: Syracuse University, New York, 1956-60, B.A. in English 1960 (Phi Beta Kappa); University of Wisconsin, Madison, M.A. in English 1961; Rice University, Houston, 1961. Family: Married Raymond J. Smith in 1961. Career: Instructor, 1961-65, and assistant professor of English, 1965-67, University of Detroit; member of the Department of English, University of Windsor, Ontario, 1967-78; publisher, with Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review, Windsor, later Princeton, since 1974; writer-in-residence, and currently Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor, Princeton University, New Jersey, since 1978. Lives in Princeton. Awards: National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1966, 1968; Guggenheim fellowship, 1967; O. Henry award, 1967, 1973, and Special Award for Continuing Achievement, 1970, 1986; Rosenthal award, 1968; National Book award, 1970; Rea award, for short story, 1990. Member: American Academy, 1978.

Publications

Short Stories

By the North Gate. 1963.

Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories. 1966.

The Wheel of Love and Other Stories. 1970.

Cupid and Psyche. 1970.

Marriages and Infidelities. 1972.

A Posthumous Sketch. 1973.

The Girl. 1974.

Plagiarized Material (as Fernandes/Oates). 1974.

The Goddess and Other Women. 1974.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Stories of Young America. 1974.

The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies. 1975.

The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (as Fernandes/Oates). 1975.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. 1976.

The Blessing. 1976.

Crossing the Border. 1976.

Daisy. 1977.

Night-Side. 1977.

A Sentimental Education. 1978.

The Step-Father. 1978.

All the Good People I've Left Behind. 1979.

The Lamb of Abyssalia. 1979.

A Middle-Class Education. 1980.

A Sentimental Education (collection). 1980.

Funland. 1983.

Last Days. 1984.

Wild Saturday and Other Stories. 1984.

Wild Nights. 1985.

Raven's Wing. 1986.

The Assignation. 1988.

Heat: And Other Stories. 1991.

Where Is Here? 1992.

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories. 1993.

Haunted. 1994.

Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories. 1996.

Demon and Other Tales. 1996.

The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque. 1998.

Novels

With Shuddering Fall. 1964.

A Garden of Earthly Delights. 1967.

Expensive People. 1968.

Them. 1969.

Wonderland. 1971.

Do with Me What You Will. 1973.

The Assassins: A Book of Hours. 1975.

Childwold. 1976.

Son of the Morning. 1978.

Cybele. 1979.

Unholy Loves. 1979.

Bellefleur. 1980.

Angel of Light. 1981.

A Bloodsmoor Romance. 1982.

Mysteries of Winterthurn. 1984.

Solstice. 1985.

Marya: A Life. 1986.

You Must Remember This. 1987.

Lives of the Twins (as Rosamond Smith). 1987.

Soul-Mate (as Rosamond Smith). 1989.

American Appetites. 1989.

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. 1990.

I Lock My Door upon Myself. 1990.

The Rise of Life on Earth. 1991.

Black Water. 1992.

What I Lived For. 1994.

Fist Love: A Gothic Tale. 1996.

Tenderness. 1996.

Zombie. 1996.

Man Crazy: A Novel. 1997.

We Were the Mulvaneys. 1997.

My Heart Laid Bare. 1998.

Plays

The Sweet Enemy (produced 1965).

Sunday Dinner (produced 1970).

Ontological Proof of My Existence, music by George Prideaux (produced 1972). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Miracle Play (produced 1973). 1974.

Daisy (produced 1980).

Three Plays (includes Ontological Proof of My Existence, Miracle Play, The Triumph of the Spider Monkey). 1980.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey, from her own story (produced1985). Included in Three Plays, 1980.

Presque Isle, music by Paul Shapiro (produced 1982).

Lechery, in Faustus in Hell (produced 1985).

In Darkest America (Tone Clusters and The Eclipse) (produced1990; The Eclipse produced 1990). 1991.

Twelve Plays (includes Tone Clusters, The Eclipse, How Do You Like Your Meat?, The Ballad of Love Canal, Under/ground, Greensleeves, The Key, Friday Night, Black, I Stand Before You Naked, The Secret Mirror, American Holiday). 1991.

New Plays. 1998.

Poetry

Women in Love and Other Poems. 1968.

Anonymous Sins and Other Poems. 1969.

Love and Its Derangements. 1970.

Woman Is the Death of the Soul. 1970.

In Case of Accidental Death. 1972.

Wooded Forms. 1972.

Angel Fire. 1973.

Dreaming America and Other Poems. 1973.

The Fabulous Beasts. 1975.

Public Outcry. 1976.

Season of Peril. 1977.

Abandoned Airfield 1977. 1977.

Snowfall. 1978.

Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money. 1978.

The Stone Orchard. 1980.

Celestial Timepiece. 1980.

Nightless Nights: Nine Poems. 1981.

Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems 1970-1982. 1982.

Luxury of Sin. 1984.

The Time Traveller: Poems 1983-1989. 1989.

Other

The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature. 1972.

The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D.H. Lawrence. 1973.

New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature. 1974.

The Stone Orchard. 1980.

Contraries: Essays. 1981.

The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews. 1983.

Funland. 1983.

On Boxing, photographs by John Ranard. 1987.

(Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities. 1988.

Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Lee Milazzo. 1989.

Come Meet Muffin (for children). 1998.

Editor, Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction. 1973.

Editor, with Shannon Ravenel, The Best American Short Stories 1979. 1979.

Editor, Night Walks: A Bedside Companion. 1982.

Editor, First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft. 1983.

Editor, with Boyd Litzinger, Story: Fictions Past and Present. 1985.

Editor, with Daniel Halpern, Reading the Fights (on boxing). 1988.

Editor, with Daniel Halpern, The Sophisticated Cat: A Gathering of Stories, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings about Cats. 1992.

Editor, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. 1992.

*

Bibliography:

Oates: An Annotated Bibliography by Francine Lercangee, 1986.

Critical Studies:

The Tragic Vision of Oates by Mary Kathryn Grant, 1978; Oates by Joanne V. Creighton, 1979; Critical Essays on Oates edited by Linda W. Wagner, 1979; Dreaming America: Obsession and Transcendence in the Fiction of Oates by G. F. Waller, 1979; Oates by Ellen G. Friedman, 1980; Oates's Short Stories: Between Tradition and Innovation by Katherine Bastian, 1983; Isolation and Contact: A Study of Character Relationships in Oates's Short Stories 1963-1980 by Torborg Norman, 1984; The Image of the Intellectual in the Short Stories of Oates by Hermann Severin, 1986; Oates: Artist in Residence by Eileen Teper Bender, 1987; Refusal and Transgression in Joyce Carol Oates' Fiction by Marilyn C. Wesley, 1993; Understanding Oates by Greg Johnson, 1987; Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction by Greg Johnson, 1994; Lavish Self-divisions: The Novels of Joyce Carol Oates by Brenda O. Daly, 1996; The Critical Reception of the Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and Gabriele Wohmann by Sigrid Mayer, 1998; Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates by Greg Johnson, 1998; Love Eclipsed: Joyce Carol Oates's Faustian Moral Vision by Nancy Ann Watanabe, 1998.

* * *

Readers exploring the short fiction of Joyce Carol Oates for the first time might start with The Wheel of Love and Marriages and Infidelities, sometimes regarded as among the best short story collections ever published in the United States. Both of these books illustrate impressively the extraordinary range of Oates's work (and most of the points made in the present essay). The Wheel of Love includes wonderful stories: "In the Region of Ice," about a college teacher nun and her troublesome and troubling Jewish student; "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," about an eerie Sunday afternoon encounter between a teenage girl and a sinister visitor who finds her at home alone; "Convalescing," about the relationship between a man mentally and physically maimed by an auto accident and his wife, who has fallen in love with another man; "Shame," about a visit paid by a priest to the "common" but appealing young widow of his boyhood chum; "Wild Saturday," about a child taken by his divorced father to a sleazy hippie gathering; and "How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again," about a female juvenile delinquent from a well-to-do family.

Outstanding stories in Marriages and Infidelities include "Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood?," about a conspiracy trial for draft evasion and an airplane hijacking; "The Sacred Marriage," a sexy and haunting tale of an affair between a literary researcher and his subject's devoted young widow; "By the River," in which a young woman who had run away from her husband is murdered by her brooding and unbalanced father; "Stalking," about an imaginative young shoplifter; "The Children," about a "normal" suburban household riven by generational terrors and violence; "Happy Onion," which concludes with a young woman observing the autopsy performed on the body of her financé, a rock music star; and "The Dead," an amusing but disturbing account of a woman writer who is successful overnight and who downs pills like candy, one of a sequence of stories taking off from literary masterpieces. Very nearly in the same class of excellence are the volumes The Goddess and Other Women, especially notable for the terrible yet lyrical story "Assault," about a rape victim's return to the scene of her trauma; All the Good People I've Left Behind, an underappreciated part of the Oates canon; and Last Days, some of which takes place in Eastern Europe under the communists, an unfamiliar setting for Oates.

Because it is so various in subject and method, it is difficult to generalize about Oates's short fiction. It is as though she set out to write all of the stories and kinds of stories it is possible to write. Certain settings recur, particularly the slums and affluent suburbs of big cities (often Detroit), the rural backwaters and small cities of the Erie Canal region in upper New York State, and the professional milieus of the Northeast. But probably no more than a plurality of Oates's stories are set in these places. The same goes for her characters. She is drawn especially to attractively trampy, sinister, or delinquent adolescents, from underclass or well-to-do backgrounds, to rural rednecks and their floozy female counterparts, to urban professionals and intellectuals living on the edge of mental or moral collapse, and to obsessively driven lovers of every age and kind. But again, such a catalogue leaves out a good many of Oates's protagonists. In narrative technique Oates is among the more traditionally realistic of major contemporary writers, but it is not uncommon for her to fracture a narrative's continuity or to write in the stream-of-consciousness mode. While her prose style has a characteristic haste, urgency, and breathlessness, she can equally well, as the narrator or through a persona, speak in a suave, urbane, or casual voice. To find an oeuvre of such breadth and variety, one must take an extravagantly long view, far beyond the current lists of fiction, toward such writers as Chaucer, Balzac, Dostoevskii, even Shakespeare.

Despite this variety, almost all of Oates's stories could be recognized as hers even if they appeared anonymously. There is, for one thing, her terrible intensity. To enter the world of her stories is to invite a torrent of life to overwhelm us, usually in a frightening way. The mode of detached irony so prevalent in twentieth-century fiction is essentially foreign to Oates, who has been known to express dissatisfaction with the myth and sensibility of the isolated, alienated artist. When she does use irony, it is typically of a sinister kind, and even then it is not the narrator's but a persona's, for example, the levelheaded voice of the cruise ship captain in "Ladies and Gentlemen," from Heat, as he tells his senior citizen passengers that they are to be put ashore on a Pacific island to die at the behest of their money-hungry children. Oates accepts the utter truth, reality, and existential importance of her material and her characters, however "grotesque" they may seem. (The word is a favorite among scholars and critics of her work.) It is as though life were made up mainly of the kind of sensational or appalling incidents reported or imagined in the supermarket tabloids (I HAD MY BOSS'S BABY—TO SAVE HIS MARRIAGE!!!) or in the grimmer annals of social work, pathological psychology, and crime. Oates finds sex, violence, psychosis, and extreme or obsessive behavior everywhere—in city slums, weed-surrounded rural shacks, the dingy enclaves of the counterculture, honky-tonk roadhouses, suburban shopping malls, the urban citadels of yuppiedom, high school corridors, the genteel common rooms of universities and think tanks, the light-and-air-filled châteaus of Michigan auto tycoons.

For all of their sensationalism, Oates's stories never suggest merely cheap effects. On the contrary, the impression—which is cumulative, ever increasing as we read more and more of her work and learn to trust her—is of a great mental power. In part this mental power is of the same kind possessed by all good fiction writers—that of imagination and of artistic craftsmanship. The remarkable fecundity and energy of Oates's imagination are the most salient facts about her since, clearly, her personal life (largely as an academic) cannot have exposed her directly to more than a small part of what she writes about. Her artistic craftsmanship, easily lost in the sheer explosiveness of her work, is formidable nonetheless. One notes, for example, that the lurid story of an airplane hijacking in "Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood?" is also a sustained imagistic treatment of tactile, visual, and technological modes of knowing and experiencing. Her store of sheer factual information seems endless—from the two-part inventions of Bach to all of the cheap lipsticks, from the rarefactions of the great philosophers to the minutiae of jukebox music past and present. One has the sense of a truly penetrating and original thinker behind her stories, one who could draw from her own stories innumerable insights of authentic intellectual value. (She frequently offers just this kind of insight in her published literary criticism of other authors.)

A nonjudgmental openness to every kind of feeling and experience is probably the most distinctive and arresting thing about Oates, and it helps explain why, for all the power and originality of her work, she gets less attention in the highbrow literary journals than many a writer of slighter genius. Pundits seem not to know what to make of her. It has been said of Oates that, if we did not know who wrote her stories, we would not be able to tell whether our anonymous author were liberal or conservative, young or old, male or female. (Her male characters are as fully realized as her female ones.) In itself her creative work cannot easily, if at all, be enlisted in the service of a cause or movement, despite the many stands she takes outside her work on all manner of current questions about life, society (boxing, for example, on which she is an authentic expert), and literature. As a result, many readers are left at a loss by Oates's refusal to judge her characters, even those who are most politically controversial or who commit the most appalling deeds, like the murderous 12-year-old girl in "In the Warehouse" (The Goddess and Other Women) who, having calculatedly pushed her girlhood chum to a horrible death, never feels any sorrow over the incident. After reading Oates one realizes just how much moral and ideological selectivity operates even in the boldest of other writers, how much of the torrent of life flows unchecked through Oates's work that, in other authors, is more safely channeled by the dams and causeways of an implicit, enlightened morality.

—Brian Wilkie

See the essays on "Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood?," "How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again," and "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol

(b. 16 June 1938 near Millersport, New York), prolific novelist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist, college professor, and lecturer widely regarded as one of the best American writers of her era.

Although neither of Oates's parents graduated from high school and both had endured great hardship, they encouraged their daughter's academic aspirations and writing abilities. During the Great Depression, Frederic Oates worked sporadically for a radiator manufacturer; he was also a skilled sign painter and practiced his craft to bring in money during periods of unemployment. The family lived on a farm in northern New York State, where Oates and her mother, Carolina (Bush) Oates, took care of the chickens, and Frederic took care of the harvest. Oates has a younger brother and sister, both of whom were born after the difficult years of the depression.

Oates attended a one-room school and spent her free time reading. At about age nine, she read Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and was inspired to write. In the fourth grade she was sexually molested by a group of boys, an experience that has affected her emotionally all her life. When she entered high school at age fourteen, her grandmother gave her the typewriter that she used constantly until she bought an electric typewriter in the mid-1960s. In 1956, when she graduated from high school, Oates received a New York State Regents Scholarship that nearby Syracuse University matched dollar for dollar, thus enabling her to attend college. While at Syracuse, Oates wrote and studied tirelessly; one professor recalls her writing a novel per semester. In 1957, her sophomore year, Oates won Mademoiselle magazine's prestigious college fiction competition. She majored in English, minored in philosophy, and was class valedictorian in 1960.

Oates went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, and in October 1960 she met Raymond J. Smith, a thirty-year-old graduate student who was studying for his doctorate in English. They married on 23 January 1961; later that year, she received her M.A. in English. Oates then briefly attended Rice University with an eye to earning her doctorate but soon left school to focus on her writing. She and her husband were miserable in Texas, finding the overt racial discrimination disheartening. When Smith accepted a position in Detroit, Michigan, Oates found a job teaching freshman English at the University of Detroit.

Oates published her first book, a collection of short stories entitled By the North Gate, in 1963. It received mostly friendly reviews. In 1964 a friend put Oates in touch with the literary agent Blanche Gregory, a sharp business-woman, who not only found publishers for Oates's stories but also managed to persuade publishers to pay top dollar for them. Oates remembers payments for her stories trebling, seemingly overnight. Also in 1963 Oates's absurdist play The Sweet Enemy was performed at New York City's Actors Playhouse. Although she was extremely shy and had difficulty interacting with the cast and director during rehearsals, she managed to make changes in the script when needed; both critics and fellow playwrights admired the work.

Oates's first published novel, With Shuddering Fall (1964), was criticized for the harshness of its worldview and the unpleasantness of its characters. Oates insisted that she wrote about reality, not wishful thinking. Given her hard life in an impoverished rural community at the end of the Great Depression, the deprivations of World War II, her sexual molestation as a very young girl, and her experience of racial segregation in Texas, it should not be surprising that much of her writing is an unflinching examination of human suffering. By 1967 Oates had been promoted to assistant professor at the University of Detroit, and she applied for and received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to fund her writing from May to September that year. She accepted a teaching position at the University of Windsor, to begin in the fall, and apparently in retaliation the University of Detroit gave her an 8:00 a.m. , five-daysa-week schedule of composition courses for her final spring semester that left her exhausted and miserable. The year 1967 also marked a great upward swing in her literary career; her novel A Garden of Earthly Delights was published, the first of a trilogy that includes Expensive People (1968) and them (1969). In contrast to what Oates believed had been insufficient promotion of her earlier books, her publisher, Vanguard, took out large advertisements for A Garden of Earthly Delights.

The novel, instantly controversial, established her as a major writer. Set in rural New York, the book reflects some of her own real-life experiences. It covers the Great Depression and World War II, with its deep-running themes of poverty and prosperity, while examining the idealization of America as the great land of opportunity for all. These themes struck a chord in a society dealing with issues of racism, an unpopular war in Vietnam, and a seemingly permanent stratum of poor people. Yet Oates's greatest accomplishment in A Garden of Earthly Delights is her characterizations, especially that of the main character, Clara, whom the novel follows from her birth to her untimely death. Like Oates, Clara attends a one-room school and is sexually molested. She is a sensitive person and mostly likable, which makes the awful cruelties inflicted on her all the more painful to read. Even though Clara's talent would seem to merit her rising in American society, she cannot escape her impoverished and battered past. Oates remembered having been inspired to construct a novel of epic scope after reading the German writer Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks; A Garden of Earthly Delights, a sweeping account of four decades of American history, is such a work.

In 1968 Oates published a collection of poetry, Women in Love and Other Poems, but it was the publication of ExpensivePeople that received the most critical and public attention. Where A Garden of Earthly Delights focuses on rural life, Expensive People concentrates on suburbia. It is a satiric novel with an experimental narrative structure. The character Nada ("nothing") might be an analogue for Oates herself. Nada is a serious writer who looks much like the thin, large-eyed Oates, and the narrative even includes a short story supposedly written by Nada that was actually a story that Oates had earlier published in a magazine. According to Oates, the idea of the novel originated in her own thinking about whether she wanted to have children. (She never did.) She then imagined one such child narrating the story. This child is Richard, an obese teenager with a dyspeptic view of his life. He is an inherently untrust-worthy narrator but often a funny one, and his murder of Nada is horrifying.

Expensive People was a popular success, selling tens of thousands of hardbound copies and hundreds of thousands of paperback copies. Oates followed Expensive People with a great novel, the work that established her as a leading American writer, them. The novel received the 1970 National Book Award; Oates is one of the youngest authors ever to be so honored. This book completed the trilogy by moving its focus to the inner city of Detroit. In them, Oates tries to capture the humanity and desperation of working-class people in the inner city, trying to make Detroit symbolic of all of America's inner cities. The narrative follows the life of Loretta and her children, Maureen and Jules. The characterization of these characters is brilliant—their depth of personality is extraordinary. They are sensitive, intelligent people, trapped in an environment of brutality, cruelty, and racism. Loretta ends up marrying a man who sexually assaulted her, the police officer Howard Wendall, and the plot then follows the events in the lives of the Wendall family. Loretta and Maureen become hardened, misanthropic figures, using their outward cynicism as shells to protect them from the evils they cannot avoid. Maureen becomes a prostitute, feeling stronger because of the money she receives. Only Jules has any hope of escape by the novel's end. He is a thief and a murderer, and he is brutalized for most of his life, possibly including being raped, but during his adventures outside the law, he reveals a romantic idealism under his criminality. His leaving for California may represent the only escape from the misery of inner city life for any of the novel's characters.

With the publication of them, Oates became a celebrity, and each of her books thereafter was widely reviewed. In 1978 she became a writer in residence at Princeton University and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Feminist critics complained that Oates's women characters were too weak or that her themes were not politically correct, even though A Garden of Earthly Delights would seem to be a feminist novel. Other readers continued to complain about the harshness of her fiction, although by the twenty-first century, her novels were becoming more positive. Nearly every critic has agreed that she is a major writer.

Oates's "My Father, My Fiction," New York Times Book Review (11 July 1989): 1, 15–16, is a beautiful account of her relationship with her parents and their relationship to her writings. A good, in-depth biography is Greg Johnson's Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates (1998). In "The Producer: Joyce Carol Oates Used to Be Dismissed as a Human Word Processor (Though She Doesn't Use One). But after 94 Books, She Sells Better than Ever—and Gets Raves," Newsweek (17 Sept. 2001): 64, Susannah Meadows assesses Oates's stature as of 2001.

Kirk H. Beetz

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Oates, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol

OATES, Joyce Carol. Also writes as Rosamond Smith. American, b. 1938. Genres: Novels, Plays/Screenplays, Poetry, Literary criticism and history, Sports/Fitness, Essays, Novellas/Short stories. Career: Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor, Princeton University, New Jersey, since 1987 (Writer-in-Residence, 1978-81). Publr., with Raymond J. Smith, Ontario Review, Princeton (formerly Windsor, Ont.), since 1974. Instructor in English, 1961-65, and Assistant Professor, 1965-67, University of Detroit; Member, Dept. of English, University of Windsor, Ont., 1967-78. Publications: By the North Gate (stories), 1963; With Shuddering Fall, 1964; Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories, 1966; A Garden of Earthly Delights, 1967; Expensive People, 1968; Anonymous Sins and Other Poems, 1969; Them, 1969; The Wheel of Love (stories), 1970; Love and Its Derangements (poetry), 1970; Cupid and Psyche, 1970; Wonderland, 1971; The Edge of Possibility: Tragic Forms in Literature, 1972; Marriage and Infidelities (stories), 1972; Do with Me What You Will, 1973; The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D.H. Lawrence, 1973; Angel Fire: Poems, 1973; New Heaven, New Earth: Visionary Experience in Literature, 1974; Miracle Play, 1974; The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies, 1974; The Goddess and Other Women (stories), 1974; Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been: Stories of Young America, 1974, 1994; The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese, 1975; The Seduction and Other Stories, 1975; The Assassins: A Book of Hours, 1975; The Fabulous Beasts (poetry), 1975; Childworld, 1976; Crossing the Border (stories), 1976; The Triumph of the Spider Monkey, 1976; Night-Side (stories), 1977; Son of the Morning, 1978; Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money (poetry), 1978; Unholy Loves, 1979; Cybele, 1979; (co-ed.) The Best American Short Stories 1979, 1979; The Step-Father, 1979; Bellefleur, 1980; Three Plays, 1980; Angel of Light, 1981; Sentimental Education, 1981; Contraries: Essays, 1981; A Bloodsmoor Romance, 1982; The Profane Ant: Essays and Reviews, 1983; Mysteries of Winterthurn, 1984; Last Days, 1984; Solstice, 1985; Marya: A Life, 1986; Raven's Wing (stories), 1986; On Boxing (nonfiction), 1987; You Must Remember This, 1987; The Assignation (stories), 1988; American Appetites, 1989; The Time Traveller: Poems 1983-1989, 1989; Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart, 1990; I Lock My Door upon Myself, 1990; I Stand before You Naked, 1991; In Darkest America (plays), 1991; The Rise of Life on Earth, 1991; Heat, and Other Stories, 1992; Black Water, 1992; Where Is Here? (stories), 1992; Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, 1993; Haunted: Tales of the Grotseque, 1994; What I Lived For, 1994; The Perfectionist and Other Plays, 1995; Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories, 1995; Zombie, 1995; George Bellows: American Artist, 1995; We Were the Mulvaneys, 1996; First Love, 1996; Tenderness, 1996; Man Crazy, 1997; My Heart Laid Bare, 1998; Come Meet Muffin, 1998; Collector of Hearts, 1998; New Plays, 1998; Broke Heart Blues, 1999; Middle Age, 2001; Beasts, 2002; The Tattooed Girl, 2003; I am No One You Know (stories), 2004. AS ROSAMOND SMITH: Lives of the Twins, 1987; Soul/Mate, 1989; Nemesis, 1991; Snake Eyes, 1992; You Can't Catch Me, 1995; Double Delight, 1997; Starr Bright Will be With You Soon, 1999; Blond, 2000; Faithless: Tales of Transgression, 2001; The Barrens, 2001. EDITOR: The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, 1992; (with D. Halpern) The Sophisticated Cat: An Anthology, 1992. Address: c/o John Hawkins, 71 W 23rd St Ste 1600, New York, NY 10010, U.S.A.

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Oates, Joyce Carol

JOYCE CAROL OATES

(1938 -)

(Also has written under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith) American novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, essayist, critic, and editor.

JOYCE CAROL OATES: INTRODUCTION
JOYCE CAROL OATES: PRINCIPAL WORKS
JOYCE CAROL OATES: PRIMARY SOURCES
JOYCE CAROL OATES: GENERAL COMMENTARY
JOYCE CAROL OATES: TITLE COMMENTARY
JOYCE CAROL OATES: FURTHER READING

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Oates, Joyce Carol 1938-

OATES, Joyce Carol 1938-

(Rosamond Smith, a pseudonym)

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 West 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] edu.

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-inresidence, 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.

WRITINGS:

novels

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.

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.

short stories

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.

poetry

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.

nonfiction

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.

for children

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.

plays

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.

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 Smooth Talk, 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.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Sexy, for HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2005.

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 crosssection 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, D.C.; 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 oldfashioned 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 seri ous 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 teenangst 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 Mulvaneys 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 Mulvaneys 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 identity," 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 ragtag 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. Desperate 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 psychologi cal 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 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."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

books

Allen, Mary, The Necessary Blankness: Women in Major American Fiction of the Sixties, University of Illinois Press (Champaign, IL), 1974.

Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 15, 1987, Volume 52, 2003.

Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI).

Bender, Eileen, Joyce Carol Oates, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1987.

Bloom, Harold, editor, Modern Critical Views: Joyce Carol Oates, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1987.

Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Broadening Views, 1968-1988, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 6, 1976, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 11, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 19, 1981, Volume 33, 1985, Volume 52, 1989, Volume 108, 1998.

Contemporary Novelists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Contemporary Poets, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Daly, Brenda O., Lavish Self-Divisions: The Novels of Joyce Carol Oates, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1996.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 2: American Novelists since World War II, 1978, Volume 5: American Poets since World War II, 1980, Volume 130, American Short Story Writers since World War II, 1993.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1981, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Johnson, Greg, Understanding Joyce Carol Oates, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1987.

Johnson, Greg, Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1994.

Johnson, Greg, Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.

Mayer, Sigrid, and Martha Hanscom, The Reception of Joyce Carol Oates's and Gabriele Wohlmann's Short Fiction, Camden House (Columbia, SC), 1998.

Modern American Literature, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Reference Guide to American Literature, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Short Story Criticism, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Twentieth-Century Culture: American Culture after World War II, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.

Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Wagner, Linda W., editor, Joyce Carol Oates: The Critical Reception, G. K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1979.

Waller, G. F., Dreaming America: Obsession and Transcendence in the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1979.

Watanabe, Nancy Ann, Love Eclipsed: Joyce Carol Oates's Faustian Moral Vision, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1997.

periodicals

America, March 16, 1996, p. 18; November 17, 2003, Richard Fusco, review of A Garden of Earthly Delights, p. 19.

American Literature, September, 1997, p. 642.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 16, 2001, Michael Upchurch, "Middle Age Full of Lingering Expectations," p. C5.

Atlantic Monthly, October, 1969; December, 1973; September, 1997, p. 118.

Book, March, 2001, Susan Tekulve, review of Faithless: Tales of Transgression, p. 70; May, 2001, Kristin Kloberdanz, "Joyce Carol Oates," p. 42; November-December, 2001, Beth Kephart, review of Middle Age: A Romance, p. 65.

Booklist, April 15, 1998, Brad Hooper, review of My Heart Laid Bare, p. 1357; July, 1999, Donna Seaman, review of Where I've Been, and Where I'mGoing: Essays, Reviews, and Prose, p. 1917; January 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Blonde, p. 835; February 1, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Faithless, p. 1020; July, 2001, Carol Haggas, review of Middle Age, p. 1952; October 1, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of Beasts, p. 300; August, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of I'll Take You There, p. 1886; March 1, 2003, Joanne Wilkenson, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 1108

Chicago Tribune Book World, September 30, 1979; July 27, 1980; January 11, 1981; August 16, 1981; February 26, 1984; August 12, 1984; January 13, 1985; February 23, 1986.

Choice, March, 1997, p. 1160.

Christian Century, January 13, 2004, p. 7.

Christian Science Monitor, October 30, 1969.

Detroit News, January 15, 1964; May 21, 1972; November 13, 1977; July 27, 1980; October 11, 1981; October 17, 19982; March 11, 1984; February 3, 1985.

Entertainment Weekly, June 20, 2003, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 78; January 9, 2004, Gillian Flynn, review of Rape: A Love Story, p. 83.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 11, 1984; April 25, 1987.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2002, review of I'll Take You There, p. 1855; April 1, 2003, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 501.

Library Journal, August 1996, p. 113; August, 1999, Nancy Patterson Shires, review of Where I've Been, and Where I'm Going, p. 89; August, 2000, Mary Jones, review of The Best American Essays of the Century, p. 102; April 1, 2001, Caroline Mann, review of The Barrens, p. 133; July, 2001, Rebecca Bollen, review of Faithless, p. 74; August, 2001, Josh Cohen, review of Middle Age, p. 164; September 15, 2001, Rochelle Ratner, review of We Were the Mulvaneys, p. 130; October 1, 2001, review of Beasts, p. 143; September 15, 2002, Rachel Collins, review of I'll Take You There, p. 93.

Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1981; February 18, 1986; October 13, 1986; November 7, 1986; August 7, 1987; January 31, 1988; July 21, 1988; December 9, 1988; April 16, 1990l April 15, 2003, Josh Cohen, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 126; October 1, 2003, Marianne Orme, review of The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, p. 75; January, 2004, Josh Cohen, review of Rape, p. 159; February 1, 2004, Joshua Cohen, review of I Am No One You Know, p. 126; March 1, 2004, Rochelle Ratner, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 126.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 12, 1980; September 19, 1982; January 8, 1984; September 30, 1984; January 6, 1985; March 1, 1987; August 16, 1987; January 15, 1989; May 10, 1992; August 22, 1993; October 22, 1995, p. 6; January 26, 2003, Stanley Crouch, "Picking Up Where Faulkner Left Off," p. 3.

Nation, July 2, 1990, pp. 27-29.

New Leader, January-February, 2002, Brooke Allen, review of Beasts, p. 28.

Newsmakers, Issue 4, 2000.

New Statesman, January 27, 2003, Vicky Hutchings, review of I'll Take You There, p. 55; January 19, 2004, Helena Echlin, review of The Tattooed Girl, p. 55.

Newsweek, September 29, 1969; March 23, 1970; August 17, 1981; September 20, 1982; February 6, 1984; January 21, 1985; March 24, 1986; March 9, 1987; August 17, 1987; April 10, 2000, David Gates, "Goodbye, Norma Jeane," p. 76.

New Yorker, December 6, 1969; October 15, 1973; October 5, 1981; September 27, 1982; February 27, 1984.

New York Review of Books, December 17, 1964; January 2, 1969; October 21, 1971; January 24, 1974; October 21, 1982; August 16, 1990; December 21, 1995, p. 32; September 15, 1996, p. 11; September 21, 1997, p. 10.

New York Times, September 5, 1967; December 7, 1968; October 1, 1969; October 16, 1971; June 12, 1972; October 15, 1973; July 20, 1980; August 6, 1981; September 18, 1982; February 10, 1984; January 10, 1985; February 20, 1986; February 10, 1987; March 2, 1987; March 4, 1987; August 10, 1987; April 23, 1988; December 21, 1988; March 30, 1990; August 29, 2003, Michiko Kakutani, "Child of Hell Is Plague on His House." New York Times Book Review, November 10, 1963; October 25, 1964; September 10, 1967; November 3, 1968; September 28, 1969; October 25, 1970; October 24, 1971; July 9, 1972; April 1, 1973; October 14, 1973; August 31, 1975; November 26, 1978; April 29, 1979; July 15, 1979; October 7, 1979; July 20, 1980; January 4, 1981; March 29, 1981; August 16, 1981; July 11, 1982; September 5, 1982; February 12, 1984; August 5, 1984; January 20, 1985; August 11, 1985; March 2, 1986; October 5, 1986; March 15, 1987; August 16, 1987; January 3, 1988; October 2, 1988; January 1, 1989; January 15, 1989; June 4, 1989, p. 16; May 10, 1992; August 15, 1993; February 13, 1994, p. 34; October 16, 1994, p. 7; October 8, 1995, p. 13; March 10, 1996, p. 7; March 7, 1999, Margot Livesey, "Jellyfish for Dinner Again?," p. 29; September 16, 2001, Claire Dederer, "AARP Recruits," p. 7; January 6, 2002, Amy Benfer, review of Beasts, p. 16; May 19, 2002, Lois Metzger, review of Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, p. 32; July 13, 2003, Sophie Harrison, "Now I Have Saved Her," p. 15.

New York Times Magazine, July 27, 1980; January 3, 1988.

Observer (London, England), August 27, 1989.

Orlando Sentinel, June 27, 2001, Mary Ann Horne, review of Faithless.

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 26, 1997.

PR Newswire, April 27, 2003, "PNC Honors Five Giants in the Arts, Science and Public Service," p. PHSA00127042003.

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, 2002, 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, 2003, 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.

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.

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. 959-960; 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.

online

BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (September 1, 2003), James Neal Webb, review of Small Avalanches and Other Stories.*

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