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Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories Hardcover – September 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“This latest collection... showcases [Oates’s] talent for imbuing mundane events with menace and the kind of irony that springs from narrow brushes with disaster… Oates’ hypnotic prose ensures that readers will be unable to look away.” (Kirkus)

“[A] masterfully honed collection of dark tales… With precision and force, the ever-mesmerizing Oates rips open the scrim of ordinariness to expose the chaos that undermines every human notion of control, reason, and sanctuary.” (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

A wildly inventive new collection ofstories by Joyce Carol Oates that chartsthe surprising ways in which the worldwe think we know can unexpectedlyreveal its darker contours

The New York Times has hailed Joyce Carol Oates as "adangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one whotakes risks almost obsessively with energy and relish."Black Dahlia & White Rose, a collection of eleven previouslyuncollected stories, showcases the keen rewards ofOates's relentless brio and invention. In one beautifullyhoned story after another, Oates explores the menace thatlurks at the edges of and intrudes upon even the seeminglysafest of lives—and maps with rare emotional acuity thetransformational cost of such intrusions.

Unafraid to venture into no-man's-lands both real andsurreal, Oates takes readers deep into dangerous territory,from a maximum-security prison—vividly delineatingthe heartbreaking and unexpected atmosphere of such aninstitution—to the inner landscapes of two beautiful andmysteriously doomed young women in 1940s Los Angeles:Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the Black Dahlia,victim of a long-unsolved and particularly brutal murder,and her roommate Norma Jeane Baker, soon to becomeMarilyn Monroe. Whether exploring the psychologicalcompulsion of the wife of a well-to-do businessman whois ravished by, and elopes with, a lover who is not what heseems or the uneasily duplicitous relationships betweenyoung women and their parents, Black Dahlia & White Roseexplores the compelling intertwining of dread and desire,the psychic pull and trauma of domestic life, and resonatesat every turn with Oates's mordant humor and hertrenchant observation.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062195697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062195692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Joyce Carol Oates is in a class all by herself. She defies characterization, combining a singular literary style with an insight into the human condition that is often painful to behold yet demands to be read. BLACK DAHLIA & WHITE ROSE is the latest collection of Oates' short fiction, consisting of 11 stories drawn from a wide range of sources --- periodicals ranging from Harper's and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine to Playboy and Boulevard, as well as short story anthologies New Jersey Noir --- which constitute a considerable sample of the width and breadth of her immeasurable talent.

The stories are grouped into four sections. Though there are no headings other than a simple roman numeral --- I, II, III and IV --- to separate one grouping from another, the stories under each grouping are loosely related by topic. The lone entry under Section I is the title story; its topic, as one might guess from the title, is one of the most puzzling and enduring murder mysteries of the last century. The murder of Elizabeth Short, dubbed "Black Dahlia" by the media, is examined from the viewpoint of several of the principals, including, interestingly enough, Marilyn Monroe and, from beyond the grave, Short herself. While Oates offers some subtle conjecture as to the identity of the murderer, the primary focus of this story is that of Short's relationship with her father, as well as an imaginative friendship between Monroe and Short, who shared a desire for fame and fortune that ultimately contributed to their respective ends in very different ways.

Section II consists of five of the collection's 11 stories and examines the fracturing of the relationship between children and parents, surrogate, absentee, and present but not accounted for.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Clarice on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For some reason, I usually buy the new Oates book (whether novel or short story collection) as soon as it comes out. Black Dahlia & White Rose was no exception.

Many of the stories find Oates in familiar territory, revisiting the themes with which she is obsessed: parent/child relationships, frustrated marriages among the upper middle class, celebrity, widowhood. In this collection, Oates continues to show her talent but doesn't break new ground.

My favorite story in the collection was the title story, which imagines the Black Dahlia and Marilyn Monroe (the white rose) as roommates. The Norma Jeanne Baker of the story is the same one we saw in BLONDE, while the Black Dahlia is altogether darker. I also liked "Hey Dad," in which a throwaway child encounters his father on his college graduation day. "Run Kiss Daddy" is one of those memorable Oatesian moments in time, while "Anniversary" ratchets up the suspense nicely as a widow volunteers to teach in a prison for violent criminals.

One of the stories, "San Quentin," is an underdeveloped throwaway, while the odd "A Brutal Murder in a Public Place" explores one of themes of this particular collection, which is (and I'm serious about this) human beings turning into animals - or their spirits merging with their animals - or ... something like that.

While Oates always keeps me coming back for more, I haven't found the recent collections quite as provocative or intense as some of the earlier collections. Perhaps it's because Oates is so prolific, she is bound to repeat herself once in a while, and she does that quite a bit in Black Dahlia and White Rose. I think it's a good collection for Oates aficionados, and perhaps even newbies.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Ferguson on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Black Dalia & White Roses is an intriguing collection that not only tells stories, but make us ponder them and hold our breaths as we turn every page. Boundaries are made invisible, ideas are tested, stereotypes are rendered meaningless and the wideness of man's soul is revealed. A friend suggested I read this story and The Usurper: and Other Stories; and henceforth, I will start taking his choices seriously, especially of short stories.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Bookish Dame on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is nothing to do but give abundant praise of anything Ms Oates considers sharing with us in writing. "Black Dahlia & White Rose" is no exception to her extraordinary gifts. This is a volume of her grotesque, in keeping with some of her horroresque stories that she occasionally likes to write. I'm a fan. I fall at her knees and read voraciously everything that comes from her mind and "pen."

This is a book of stories for those who enjoy the wit and twist of mind of Joyce Carol Oates.

I loved her black humor and her distorted report of mad-ness in these stories. They make you shiver at the perversion of some human-beings and the sadness and loneliness of others. There is a minute exploration of the minds of characters that references the darkest psyches of us all. She tends to cull out and undress the hidden in people.

One wonders where she draws all her information! These stories are consummate Oates, but they are new in that they explore contemporary issues and the modern mind-set.

I loved the collection, and I know fans of hers will, too. So will those who don't know her, yet. How I envy those who are just on the cusp of discovering her. This will be a great introduction to her macabre and grotesque set in the ordinary of every day happenings. You must get a copy this year!!

5+ stars of excellence Deborah/TheBookishDame
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