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I Am No One You Know: Stories Paperback – April 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060592893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060592899
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Never one to shy away from grim or sensational themes, Oates writes about murder, rape, arson and terrorism in her latest collection of short fiction. In these 19 stories, she evokes the underbellies of small towns and the bizarre and obsessive desires of their inhabitants. In "Upholstery," a teenager finds herself helplessly attracted to a lecherous older man. A 14-year-old in "The Girl with the Blackened Eye" is brutally abducted but afraid to break her kidnapper's trust by escaping. In Oates's precise psychological renderings, victims are as complex as villains and almost always more interesting. The lure of the criminal is seductive, impossible to resist. Two stories, "In Hiding" and "The Instructor," feature middle-class female intellectuals inexplicably drawn to convicts. The prototypical victim, Marilyn Monroe-also the subject of Oates's acclaimed 2001 novel Blonde-appears in disguise in "Three Girls," when two young coeds encounter her in the Strand bookstore and agree to help her remain anonymous. The collection closes with a story about September 11 that in anyone but Oates's hands would fall flat. But "The Mutants," in which a young woman trapped in her downtown apartment building refuses to be paralyzed by fear, is beautifully, uncannily affecting. "She was hollow-eyed and gaunt yet wakeful, no longer the dreamy-eyed blond. A mutant being, primed to survive." Indeed, even the strangest events in this sure-footed collection are painfully familiar.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Oates is vitally concerned, even obsessed, with the most primal and disturbing encounters between females and males, and her new searing short stories explore the malevolent aspects of human sexuality with unflinching authenticity and a cathartic fascination. Set in Oates country--bleak, rural New York State--these bold and bloody tales enfold elements of the mystery genre as Oates introduces compellingly expressive young women threatened or assaulted by men, some of whom they should be able to trust. Race is frequently a factor, as is the vulnerability of literary women somewhat like herself, a concern Oates dramatizes to chilling affect in "The Instructor," in which a novice writing teacher, "a young woman with a quiet, implacable will," confronts a former death-row inmate. Then, in another exceptionally accomplished tale, "Me & Wolfie, 1979," wizardly Oates turns the tables by portraying a crazed and destructive woman. Ultimately, key truths emerge: family bonds can be shackles, and women possess the amazing ability to put their lives back together after even the most hellish ordeal. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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These stories are thought provoking and gripping, beautiful and poignant.
CoffeeGurl
Do not miss this opportunity to read some of the best short stories ever put in one book.
Jon Linden
I've read a few of her short story collections and this one is my favorite thus far.
circus tricks

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I can only expect something staggering and literary when I pick up Joyce Carol Oates. I am No One You Know is one of the darkest and most disturbing short-story collections I've ever read. And I've read my fair share of incredible short stories! Oates writes about rape, murder and depression like very few writers. These stories are thought provoking and gripping, beautiful and poignant. My favorite stories are "Upholstery," "The Girl with the Blackened Eye," "Fire," "Mutants," and "Three Girls." Each of these stories enthralled me from beginning to end. Their messages affected me. I cannot recommend this short-story collection enough. It is the perfect thing to pick up if you're in the bargain for some deep reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MICHAEL ACUNA on August 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is little doubt that Joyce Carol Oates is not afraid to write about all the things we fear: child abuse, rape, neurotic parents, murder. But just when you think that you have got her pegged, she writes a lovely story like "Three Girls" about a chance meeting, viewing really of Marilyn Monroe by two uppity yet driven-to-distraction-because they see a star college girls at a bookstore in downtown NYC. ("...Marilyn Monroe. She gave us a book. Was any of it real?") Then of course she includes "The Girl with the Blackened Eye" in this collection that recalls her recent "Rape...A Love Story" and once again writes of a brutal rape.

The stories in "I Am No One You Know" are uneven which pretty much goes hand-in-hand with this type of story collection...i.e. taken from many sources, written over the course of several years. But nonetheless there are several real doozies, for example : "Aiding and Abetting, " about how families look away when there is real horror amongst their own and how a huge price can be paid for this and "Fire" about the pleasures of alcohol ("Drinking clarified. Confusion dissolved.")

Oates is equally at home in the short story and the long format form. And, of course she has written brilliantly in both. But there is something about Oates's short stories that draw you in even closer, telescope and make what she is saying even sharper and "I Am No One You Know" contains some shining examples of this.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Arguably, this is the best collection of short stories ever published by Joyce Carol Oates. Her focus in this book is trauma, from the most personal and emotional to the most global, i.e. The World Trade Center Disaster. Her elucidation of the psychological is center stage in all of her stories. Each story depicting a truly personal trauma, the book takes the reader through the pain and effects of the death of parents, the influence of serious mental illness, the difficult love and emotional interactions of a student who is seduced by a teacher and many other topics that reflect what we have seen going on in the American Society in the last decade.

Always, there is the ever present hardscrabble existence of those in the Upstate New York environment, the struggle to make a living, and the struggle just to live with the prevailing conditions of the region. The struggle to live and live with one's own thoughts and experiences is truly brought to the surface.

From a writing standpoint this book finds Joyce at the apex of her short story writing career. The stories are carefully crafted, with the use of multiple literary techniques. Her use of phrases to highlight and illustrate specific intensities of thought and feeling are wonderfully blended with a writing style that grips the reader like a pipe wrench. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters time after time. Her stories do not always resolve, leaving the reader to extrapolate the future of the characters. The pictures she paints with her words are explicit and the most intense examples of human reality. This reality is mixed most explicitly with the internal feeling of most of the characters that they are unique and that they are "No One You Know."

The book is recommended for all serious readers of modern literature. It is a classic in all respects. Do not miss this opportunity to read some of the best short stories ever put in one book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ophelia99 on March 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms Oates is one of the finest living writers, particularly in the short story form. As only the most skilled storytellers can, she can hook you with the first line and deeply involve you in the lives of her characters in the first paragraph.

I must object to a comment that the reviewer from Booklist made about the story "Me & Wolfie, 1979." The reviewer completely missed the point of a moving story about a bright, sensitive boy and his bi-polar mother. Despite the problems she created for him, she also introduced him to a world of magic and beauty. Moving and not soon forgotten.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I AM NO ONE YOU KNOW is the most recent collection of previously published short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. This latest assortment consists of nineteen tales that range from "In Hiding," a creepy tale about the one mistake a person might make in the spirit of generosity that will ultimately bring danger to her/him, to a very charming tale about two friends who happen upon Marilyn Monroe in the famous Strand bookstore in Manhattan. The body of work produced by Ms. Oates is outstanding for its range of topics and its breadth of forms. Her stories are so intense that they immediately grab readers and keep them reading.
But more than that, Oates leaves her reader reeling from the way she handles her characters, settings, dialogue, descriptions and on points timeliness. "In Hiding" begins as a pleasant story about a divorced poet/teacher/translator who lives with her teenage son in upstate New York. One day she receives a packet of poetry and prose from a stranger.
"Please accept my poetry as a gift. I love your poetry truly. Even if you don't have time to read my writings. Even if you don't have a feeling for it. I understand. His name was Woodson Johnston, Jr. --- 'Woody.' He was an inmate at Kansas State Penitentiary in Fulham, Kansas." She read the poems and the few diary entries he had sent: "She'd given in to impulse [and] mailed off [a thank you] card, and that was that!" But of course it isn't.
"Three Girls" is a "typical" New York story, with two students, "NYU girl-poets drifting through the warehouse of treasures as through an enchanted forest, known to them as Strand Used Books on Broadway and Twelfth [during a] snowy March [evening] ... in 1956.
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