Penzler Pick, March 2001: I guess it's no secret that I regard Joyce Carol Oates as one of the great living American writers, both of mystery-crime-suspense fiction and of virtually every other form invented. I previously reviewed Blonde, which went on to be nominated for a National Book Award, and it's my joy to be able to recommend Faithless: Tales of Transgression, the stories within which are about as good as the short story gets. (Full disclosure here, with the admission that I might be a trifle prejudiced in favor of this volume. It is dedicated to Alice Turner, the former fiction editor of Playboy, and to me--largely, I reckon, because several of these stories were written especially for several anthologies of which I was the editor.)
There are 24 stories in this generous volume and while some inevitably linger longer in the memory than others, there is not a dull spot in its nearly 400 pages. The title story is a haunting tale of the disappearance of a woman as recalled by her two daughters, grown now. The ending is utterly expected but, nevertheless, comes as a shock. "The Vampire" is not at all a horror story, at least not in the sense that it involves in any way elements of the supernatural, but has a growing sense of pure terror as the reader comes to see the way in which one person can absorb all the life out of another.
In "The High School Sweetheart: A Mystery," a famous mystery writer reads a speech as he accepts the presidency of the most prestigious of all mystery organizations. The speech is delivered as a piece of fiction that appears to be a confession of a horrific crime committed during his teen years while besotted with a girl two years older than he. When the speech ends, the audience cannot imagine applauding because the story seems so true. Is it?
Once again, the incomparable Joyce Carol Oates has produced a compelling and important volume for the shelves of anyone who cares about distinguished suspense fiction. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Oates long ago established herself as the nation's literary Weegee, prowling the mean streets of the American mind and returning with gloriously lurid takes on our midnight obsessions. If she has left a stone in the shared unconscious unturned, she turns it here in this collection of 24 wide-ranging stories. As the subtitle suggests, the book's preoccupation is sin, but otherwise the stories are richly various. They range from quiet, intimate tales--such as the chilling opening effort, "Au Sable," about a man let in on a suicide he cannot prevent--to the satiric fantasia on TV journalism and police brutality that closes the volume, "*In COPLAND*." Indeed, the stories (and there are enough here for two if not three volumes) are loosely grouped into three untitled sections, respectively focused on individual obsession, family and notorious recent crimes. Throughout, sex often seems the innocent engine of our sins. In the title story, which opens the second section, sexual infidelity is offered as a coverup for a much deeper faithlessness, and in "What Then, My Life?" a successful woman asks whether her life would have been as meaningful and successful if the sexual assault that marked her youth had not occurred. But it is the stories of the final section that will probably attract the most attention. These tales echo the headlines--the Menendez brothers, Columbine, Abner Louima--but do so with great imagination and unexpected humor. Some may see the collection's virtue, its great variety, as its vice, judging it a miscellany of sketches and treatments written quickly during off hours. But few if any authors share Oates's phenomenal range, and few know our dark but shimmering secrets so well. (Mar. 3)Forecast: Post-Blonde, Oates is flying high. The stories may be a hard sell, particularly with so many Oates novels on the shelves, but strong reviews and lingering Blonde effervescence could translate into decent sales--and of course this should remain a perennial backlist item.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Editorial Reviews
As one reviewer said, "There is something for everyone" in this collection of short stories. Yes, but --- there is something lacking: ENDINGS!
Ms. Read more
This was a very different book - it was interesting but not my favorite.Published 3 months ago by Ann Phillips
This is excellent literature, precisely written and with a vibrant rhythm. Deep Stories into the life of the USA that bring universal descriptions of the human condition. Read morePublished 8 months ago by FERNANDO GIRALDEZ
Another one that is good! Happy with my shopping online, love the book (one of my favorites authors!), and the price. I will continue buying books on your website in the future :-)Published 12 months ago by Beata F
Well-crafted and interesting, but deep and dark. The short story genre is appealing.Published 14 months ago by Judith Haber
Just couldn't get into her writing. I expected something different when I ordered the book. Not short stories. Morose, ehhh.Published 14 months ago by Pageflipper
Oh how I love JCO darkness, and this one is no exception - dark as a stormy winter middle of the night!! Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dogma