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I Am No One You Know: Stories Paperback – April 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The stories in "I Am No One You Know" are uneven which pretty much goes hand-in-hand with this type of story collection...i.e. taken from many sources, written over the course of several years. But nonetheless there are several real doozies, for example : "Aiding and Abetting, " about how families look away when there is real horror amongst their own and how a huge price can be paid for this and "Fire" about the pleasures of alcohol ("Drinking clarified. Confusion dissolved.")
Oates is equally at home in the short story and the long format form. And, of course she has written brilliantly in both. But there is something about Oates's short stories that draw you in even closer, telescope and make what she is saying even sharper and "I Am No One You Know" contains some shining examples of this.
Always, there is the ever present hardscrabble existence of those in the Upstate New York environment, the struggle to make a living, and the struggle just to live with the prevailing conditions of the region. The struggle to live and live with one's own thoughts and experiences is truly brought to the surface.
From a writing standpoint this book finds Joyce at the apex of her short story writing career. The stories are carefully crafted, with the use of multiple literary techniques. Her use of phrases to highlight and illustrate specific intensities of thought and feeling are wonderfully blended with a writing style that grips the reader like a pipe wrench. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters time after time. Her stories do not always resolve, leaving the reader to extrapolate the future of the characters. The pictures she paints with her words are explicit and the most intense examples of human reality. This reality is mixed most explicitly with the internal feeling of most of the characters that they are unique and that they are "No One You Know."
The book is recommended for all serious readers of modern literature. It is a classic in all respects. Do not miss this opportunity to read some of the best short stories ever put in one book.
I must object to a comment that the reviewer from Booklist made about the story "Me & Wolfie, 1979." The reviewer completely missed the point of a moving story about a bright, sensitive boy and his bi-polar mother. Despite the problems she created for him, she also introduced him to a world of magic and beauty. Moving and not soon forgotten.
A mournful feeling of regret runs through this collection. For instance, when using a complex narrator's voice in the story `Me & Wolfie, 1979' (probably the most experimental and difficult story in the collection) the protagonist states, "For every hurt dealt to her son she loved, Me dealt herself a dozen." In many cases a decision on the part of one person has led to an irresolvable split in that person's family like in `Curly Red' where a girl chooses to reveal a family secret leading to her own isolation. One of Oates' greatest abilities is to seek out injustice and expose it by giving a voice to those who are silenced. But she is not one to shy from the complexities of certain situations by recognizing the levels of conscious participation on all sides or the wilful self deceit some people impose upon themselves. In `The Deaths: An Elegy' a woman chooses to confuse the facts of her parents' relationship and strikes out against her brother who probably saved her life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great collection of unrelated short stories. Amazing how the characters develop quickly. Each story then ends on the perfect note, where you just want it to keep going, but you... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Holly
This was a free read on my kindle. I enjoyed the book very much. I was in Paris this past July and fell in love with the city and it was fun imagining the settings of the stories... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Karen J. Gerber
One of my favorite JCO books.
Read it when first published.
Read it a couple of times after that. Read more
All the stories were beautifully written with well drawn characters, imaginative and disturbingly believable plots. But I felt cheated at the end of each one! Read morePublished 8 months ago by L. L. Macaulay