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The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense Hardcover – August 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The words gothic and macabre rather than mystery and suspense might better describe the 10 beautifully told stories in this superb collection from the prolific Oates (The Female of the Species). In the startling opening tale, Hi! Howya Doin!, an overly friendly jogger encounters someone with a less rosy outlook on life. In the horrifying Valentine, July Heat Wave, an estranged wife finds a very unpleasant surprise in the home she once shared with her academic husband. In the haunting Feral, a near-death experience transforms a much-loved only child into something wild and unknowable. The title story concerns a horrific exhibit in the home of an aging coroner in upstate New York (whose behavior is even more troubling). The book's best story, The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza, about an aging boxer in a bout that will make or end his career, happens to be the least gruesome. Powerful narratives, a singular imagination and exquisite prose make this a collection to relish. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

All crime stories implicate the reader in some way--if you weren't thrilled by criminal acts, you wouldn't be reading about them, would you?--but in two of the tales in this new collection, "Hi! Howya Doin!" and "Stripping," Oates takes that concept one step further, implicating the reader by use of second-person point of view. In other stories, guilt shifts more unpredictably: in "Suicide Watch," a father ponders his own culpability for a horrific crime that he thinks--he can't be sure--his son has committed; in "Bad Habits," the children of a serial killer find similarities between themselves and their father's victims; in "Valentine, July Heat Wave," a philosopher plans revenge against his less-intelligent wife, whom he blames for their impending divorce. Oates clearly isn't interested in the usual suspects. It's almost customary, when reviewing her, to get off a crack at her prodigious output. But the care and intellect she applies to all of her projects, even what is theoretically "just" genre fare, are anything but jokes. These stories sizzle, and turning pages only fans the flames. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 Reprint edition (August 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151015317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151015313
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,055,833 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

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on December 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Oates' stories don't include a single ghost or supernatural event. Instead these 10 macabre tales focus on the happenstance of evil colliding with ordinary life. Many of the stories carry a sense of inevitability.

The opening story homes in on the bullying personality of a beefy runner who likes to startle the weaker runners in his path. You know how it's going to end and can only watch, with a certain uncomfortable satisfaction.

Some, like "Valentine" - a monologue from a spurned man to his lover - have a Poe-like feel, lucid but unhinged. From the first word the outcome is certain, but the reader is riveted all the same.

Others imagine the psychological effects of a very specific event - the change in a long-awaited child after a near-death accident; or the strange, halting absorption of understanding that Daddy is a serial killer.

These are stories to be read singly, not in a gulp. They are visceral, gruesome and unsparing of the darker aspects of human nature; also beautifully crafted and compelling.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on September 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's often said that no American writer has ever had a greater capacity to re-invent herself than Joyce Carol Oates. The trouble is, not every new literary incarnation of this great writer is an improvement on the old. When she released what might be regarded as her first true collection of macabre stories with 1994's Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque, it was a bold move for this woman whose primary reputation rested on the strength of her non-genre writings, and most received that book with generous praise. The trouble is, little did we know then that she would return to mine this vein again and again, and with each visitation find less there.

The Museum Of Doctor Moses serves to gives us some very disturbing short stories. As a whole it contains one passably good story, the title one, an Oatesean tale that is both believable and shocking enough to merit some praise, and its presents some lesser pieces that I've already halfway put out of my mind. The remainder of the collection falls somewhere beneath the quality of the story of the disturbed and disturbing Doctor Moses, and at times well below it.

"Hi! Howya Doin!" was as direct as A+B=C, and could easily have been constructed by a gifted seventh-grader.

"Suicide Watch" had a "lifted from the headlines" feel to it, as did much of Oates' far superior 1991 collection Heat, and while not a terrible story, was decidedly unworthy of the talents Oates has long proven she owns.

"Stripping" the worst story in this anthology was frankly a waste of paper, ink, and time on both the reader and writer's behalf.

The revenge-themed "Valentine, July Heat Wave" was the story that more than any others in Doctor Moses has the tone of classic Joyce Carol Oates, but even it was not particularly memorable.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Museum Of Dr. Moses" is perhaps one of Joyce's greatest efforts in the milieu of the macabre. Unlike many of her previous books and stories on the theme, this book actually discusses situations that are much more day to day occurring and much easier to empathize with than are some of her most gruesome stories of the past.

In many ways, this technique brings the world of the macabre in coincidence with the world of daily life. In her story "Hi! Howya Doin!" she describes a jogger who in his physically fit and nonchalant manner becomes an irritant to others. It is easy to imagine this irritation, and how some others might react to it. In fact, it is interesting for the reader to imagine, that even the somewhat unexpected and macabre end is something they can actually empathize doing.

Other stories are even more detailed and more graphic in illustrating the macabre. Yet each of them are tied enough to regular daily life, that it can be imagined by the reader. It can even be imagined that the reader could be in that position. For example, in her story, "Valentine, July Heat Wave" the story involves a couple that have recently separated and a final meeting prior to the inevitable divorce. Yet this meeting is not like any other in the past.

Once again, Joyce's style of portrayal is such that the reader can imagine being in such a similar situation, without that much of a stretch. Only an assumption that their spouse is a little crazed. That in fact probably covers about 96% of marriages in America. Using this new style, Joyce allows the reader to come close to the macabre experience through her articulation.

The book is recommended for all readers interested in tales of the grotesque and macabre. It is also highly recommended for JCO readers in general as it is a new stylistic metamorphosis on the theme for the author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Sommerville on July 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I suppose some literary geniuses out there think it beneath an author of JCO's caliber to stoop to writing horror (which is what this anthology is-- ignore the "mystery and suspense" tag), a waste of her talents they call it. Well, I'd like to balance out their criticism by lavishing this book with praise! I speak for all my fellow horror loving slobs when I say that this book delivers the chills!

The second story, "Suicide Watch" was jaw-droppingly disturbing as the reader is left to reach his own conclusion about what happened to the main character's grandson. A fantastic read!

Another story that was so good it made me wanna cry was "Feral" in which a yuppie couple's boy drowns, is revived but something is different about him after the near-death incident. Another truly chilling read.

"Valentine, Heat Wave," "Bad Habits," and "The Museum of Dr. Moses" were all tales that floored me as well. Really, there was only one I didn't dig ("Stripping"), other than that one stinker, the rest is gold.

Joyce Carol Oates is widely recognized as one of the best writers of the last half century, but among horror fans, she is seldom mentioned, which puzzles me as so much of her work is amazingly gruesome and scary.

Highly reccomended!
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