A collection of eight original stories tests the bonds between damaged people, showing how full--and how devoid--of humanity individuals can be. - (Baker & Taylor)
This brilliant, yet disturbing, collection of eight original stories from the unrivaled investigator of human flaws tests the bonds between damaged individuals, showing just how full - and how devoid - of humanity we can be. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individualsa brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subwayin the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated.
In the title story High Crime Area,” a white, aspiring professor is convinced she is being followed. No need to panic, she has a handgun stowed away in her pursejust in case. But when she turns to confront her black, male shadow, the situation isn’t what she expects. In The Rescuer,” a promising graduate student detours to inner city Trenton, New Jersey to save her brother from a downward spiral. But she soon finds out there may be more to his world than to hers. And in The Last Man of Letters,” the world-renowned author X embarks on a final grand tour of Europe. He has money, fame, but not a whole lot of manners. A little thing like etiquette couldn’t bring a man like X down, could it?
In these biting and beautiful stories, Oates confronts, one by one, the demons within us. Sometimes it’s the human who wins, and sometimes it’s the demon.
- (Perseus Publishing
Oates (Evil Eye, 2013) carries forward the great American dark-tales tradition with spellbinding craft, a cutting female eye, and a keen sense of how the diabolical infiltrates everyday existence, masterfully conjuring realms grotesque, erotic, and ironic. She begins with a neatly feinting revenge story about a "conscientious orderly" and a nun who once ran a notorious orphanage. We meet an ethereal, wealthy widow who naively decides that marijuana will ease her pain, a prescription for mayhem. Oates portrays with forensic exactitude misshapen and abused children and a sexist celebrity writer who gets his comeuppance. "The Rescuer" is a complex and haunting tale about family and race centered on a dutiful young woman trying to help her brother in the drug-poisoned heart of Trenton, New Jersey. Oates extends her inquiry into the racial divide and returns to another of her signature settings, Detroit circa 1967, in the exquisitely frank and distressing title story about the fears of a young, white English teacher. Powerhouse Oates brings both exterior and interior worlds into excruciatingly sharp focus, evoking dread, grim exaltation, and the paralysis of prey. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Oates' potent dark tales are addictive, and her readers' habit must be fed. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Among the most compelling of Oates's many literary personae is the one with a deep-rooted interest in the pathology of criminals and their crimes. Her latest story collection opens with a Roger Ackroyd-like confession that elicits the reader's sympathy before the crime itself is described ("The Home at Craigmillnar"). The other stories range from horror to dark comedy, including a revenge fantasy perpetrated on a misogynistic world-renowned writer ("The Last Man of Letters"). Oates is particularly adept at revealing the lure of the criminal element among failed or failing academics who drift well beyond the statute of limitations of their doctoral degrees. VERDICT These stories take the reader to desolate intersections and grimy tenements that mirror the dark reaches of the human soul; the combined elements of literary fiction with genre fiction and true crime offer added audience appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/13.]—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
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