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High Lonesome: Stories 1966-2006 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 11, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This hefty collection, featuring 10 new pieces along with stories culled from four decades, further establishes the prolific and wide-ranging Oates as a gifted chronicler of American culture. The theme of girls and women preyed upon by violent men appears repeatedly, as in the much-anthologized "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" (1970) but also in lesser-known pieces like "Small Avalanches" (1974), which turns the tables, as a 13-year-old girl, nimble and laughing, evades a middle-aged, panting lech on a deserted path. Several stories feature characters whose mental instabilities lead to violence, as in "Last Days" (1984), in which a brilliant, manic college student with a Messiah complex assassinates a rabbi, then turns the gun on himself. Though Oates's world is often ugly, she also displays a more fanciful (if still creepy) impulse; the recent piece "Fat Man My Love" finds actress "Pippi" (indubitably Tippi Hedren) puzzling over the director (an unnamed Hitchcock) who both created and ruined her career. While the lurid events of some stories have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, Oates is never merely sensational, tracking hidden motives and emotions with a sharp eye for psychological detail—everything conveyed in lucid, rhythmic prose. However much is made of her prodigious output, it's the consistent quality of the work that lifts Oates into the literary pantheon. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Oates universe is tense and overcast when it isn't under assault by grimly devastating storms. An expert in the causes and effects of obsession, desolation, and annihilation, Oates has crafted hundreds of mesmerizing short stories of acute social and psychological insights, sinister sexuality, and stark violence. Nine new, hard-hitting stories of fractured families, death, and longing kick off this supreme retrospective collection. "High Lonesome" tracks the absurd and tragic circumstances that instigate a suicide and a revenge killing. In "Spider Boy," a son helplessly reveals the shocking truth about his father. In 'The Cousins," a woman writes to the thorny author of a controversial Holocaust memoir, certain that they're related. Oates even offers a chilling biotech cautionary tale. Two-dozen standout stories from the past four decades follow these new works, beginning with a harrowing tale of a hurricane, "Upon the Sweeping Flood," and moving on to quintessential Oatesean tales of cataclysms seeded in the human heart. Oates' daring oeuvre, immense in size, depth, and spirit, will stand as a pillar in American literature, and this collection of stories that Oates feels are her best is as significant as it is breathtaking. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060501197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060501198
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,220 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

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on October 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Coming in at almost 700 pages and featuring eleven new stories as well as two-dozen classic short stories from the 1960's thru the end of the twentieth-century, plus commentary from Oates herself, this anthology represents a sweeping cross-section of this ingenious writer's best short fiction. Her tremendous talent as a novelist aside, I've always felt Oates was at her best when dealing with a short subject, and for anyone unacquainted with her writings it would be hard to find a better starting point for an introduction to one of America's greatest creative minds. As for Joyce Carol Oates' admirers, this is simply a must-possess volume.

While there is a lot of fine writing inside this collection, probably my favorite five stories in High Lonesome would be (in no special order):

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Corrections, and Began My Life Over Again


Four Summers

Concerning The Case of Bobby T.

Considering just how prolific Oates has been since the early 1960's and stopping for a moment to ponder the immensity of her output and all that is out there to be read, collections like this one are very nice, and I hope we soon see further volumes that gather in more of her incredible writings.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on May 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates and have always looked forward to reading her short-story collections. High Lonesome is a rather large volume full of some of Oates's best stories with some new ones that will satisfy people who have already read and own her old ones (like me). Some of the "new" stories had already been published, but the ones that hadn't been published (or that I hadn't already read) are wonderful. My favorites from 2006 are: "The Cousins," "The Lost Brother," "High Loneliness," and "Fat Man My Love." The aforementioned stories are clear reminders that Oates hasn't lost her touch in her long, brilliant writing career. Her stories are dark, surreal and somewhat disturbing at times, but that is why I read them. And then there are classic ones that I'd discovered and been reading for a few years now, like "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?," "Small Avalanches," "The Knife," and "Manslaughter." High Lonesome is a wonderful addition to the spot on my bookshelf devoted to this author. My one complaint is the rather steep hardcover price. This is very expensive for a book full of mostly previously published material. I checked this one out of the library because I am now in the why-should-I-spend-thirty-dollars-on-a-hardcover-when-I-can-buy-four-mass-market-paperbacks-for-the-same-price mentality. And that is why I give this four stars instead of five. High Lonesome is something I'd like to own, but I'd rather wait for the paperback.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates is a gifted writer, and if you're a fan you won't want to miss adding this to your collection. The stories are pretty creepy, but nevertheless appeals to me for it really reveals the darker side of human nature. A gripping read!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
HIGH LONESOME, the latest collection of short fiction by Joyce Carol Oates, is also the most extensive. Work is amassed from over four decades of her career and includes 11 new stories, all of which exhibit her razor-sharp ability of cutting straight to the heart of the middle class. Her familiar themes of innocence lost, violence unchecked (usually against women), and the seamy underbelly of suburbia abound throughout.

After four decades of writing, Oates is far from past her prime, her new stories resonant with her recurring motifs. In "Spider Boy" a teenage son is used for bait by his powerful politician father as he trolls for young men. Normally her work demonstrates violence against women, but in this story the politician is exploiting (and quite possibly murdering) his young male prey. The young son must decide how much to divulge to the police, resulting in a powerful --- albeit horrific --- morality play that could have been ripped from today's headlines.

In "The Fish Factory" we see the disintegration of a couple's marriage after tragedy strikes. Narrated by the heartbroken wife, the story begins after the body of her teenage daughter has been discovered behind a dilapidated factory: "Seeing my daughter discarded like trash behind the fish factory where on even the breeziest days a faint stink of fish prevails." "The Gathering Squall" depicts the violent aftermath of a high school girl being violated and humiliated by a group of high school boys, similar territory to Oates's bestselling WE WERE THE MULVANEYS.

The title story opens with the fateful words, "The only people I still love are the ones I've hurt.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Hardy on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you've never read Oates- read this for your introduction. It is beautiful and the stories seem prefectly picked. I loved how you can see her progression as an author and also the different paths she's followed in her fiction. Worth it's wait in gold- an then some.
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