Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton.

The wedding was like a dream outside her power, or like a show unmanaged by her in which she was to have no part.

Soft-Speaking Tough Souls: Grace Paley

Joyce Carol Oates, 16 April 1998

How aptly named: Grace Paley. For ‘grace’ is perhaps the most accurate, if somewhat poetic, term to employ in speaking of this gifted writer who has concentrated on short, spare fiction through a career of nearly five decades. First published in 1959 with The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley immediately drew an audience of readers who were not only admiring but loving. Her subsequent collections of stories – Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985) – confirmed her reputation as a lyricist of the domestic life, a poet in prose whose ear for the Jewish-American vernacular suggests a kinship with her older contemporaries, Singer, Malamud and Bellow.’‘

Getting on

Joyce Carol Oates, 12 January 1995

As in one of Escher’s visual paradoxes, where infinity opens up vertiginously within a single geometric figure, object and anti-object define each other, and ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ are made to shift according to one’s perspective, the highly combustible issue of race in America, and its consequences in terms of the academic-literary canon, depend almost entirely on one’s position. The much-publicised ‘culture wars’ and the seriocomic ‘battle of the books’ of the American literary-academic community – the bitter controversies over who will determine the sacred ‘canon’ – are less about putative standards of literature than about what constitutes a ‘worthy’ life.’

Dye the Steak Blue: Shirley Jackson

Lidija Haas, 19 August 2010

In Shirley Jackson’s best-known story, ‘The Lottery’, the residents of a small New England village get together on a summer morning to draw lots. The sun shines, the children...

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Trauma Style: Joyce Carol Oates

Joanna Kavenna, 19 February 2004

Joyce Carol Oates is fascinated by the seedy corners of American life. Her recent novels are narrated by orphans, mutilated girls, the abused, the impoverished, celebrities destroyed by fame,...

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Enid’s Scars

Peter McDonald, 23 June 1988

The title of Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel is well-chosen, being itself both a fragment of popular culture (‘As time goes by’ seems to be lodged there pretty firmly by now) and...

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Wallacette the Rain Queen

Mark Lambert, 19 February 1987

In The Beet Queen Louise Erdrich has returned to the setting, period, narrative techniques, and to some of the characters, of her admired first novel, Love Medicine, and has made something even...

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