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Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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“[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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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
Most Recent Customer Reviews
when it comes to describing women and little girls brutalized and murdered, joyce carol oates has never been squeamish nor superstitiously fearful of what she writes will have... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Case Quarter
The characters are terrific, and the stories interesting.
Had somewhat of a difficult time tying together
the names, places and events.
The writing is excellent.
Is there something between noir and nonsense? This book is on the noir side, of course, and the nonsense is probably all in my head. Far-fetched? Of course. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Many of these short pieces are truly inspired, but the collection feels uneven. While Oates' writing is always strong, some of the stories in this collection are not as stirring or... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kat
Many of the stories seem to be unresolved. Rather on the dark side.Published 5 months ago by Ruth Moyer Gerald
I love Joyce Carol Oates, probably more than my own mother, but this book feels unfinished. There is lots of potential; everything seems to stop short of where it should. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Pingo
This is the Joyce carol Oates I love. The first group of the stories are written from the points of view of young women, mainly in terms of their relationships with men and their... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carole A. Reedy
Because I love her novels and novellas so much. But her short stories -- NOT! I would not even call these short stories; they are vignettes, like a painting of words. Read morePublished 5 months ago by marcia riley
Haven't finished book yet, but first start is a real downerPublished 12 months ago by Sylvia R. Brown