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The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense (Harvest Book) Paperback – January 15, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
In the first tale, "So Help Me God", a young woman falls in love with a bad boy cop, caught in a web of abuse with the husband she met at fourteen and married at eighteen. The exhilarating sexual energy of their early encounters feels far more dangerous as he toys with her dependency, obsession turning to terror. In "Doll, A Romance of the Mississippi", eerily reminiscent and a cross between "Baby Doll" and Lolita, a young girl travels the Midwest with her (step)father, preying on the sexual fantasies of vulnerable paying customers, frequently betrayed by her own twisted demons, home-schooled from the trunk of their 1953 Buick La Salle. "Madison at Guignol" speaks to a woman's quest for perfection: "But it is my soul I seek continuously, where I can and however." This fashion maven is a victim of her own pathetic hubris, caught in a horror beyond her ability to comprehend.
A personal favorite is "Hunger", one of the longer pieces in The Female of the Species. Kristine, the second wife of a wealthy man, begins a casual dalliance with an enigmatic, exotic stranger, Jean-Claude, a new arrival in the elite oceanside community where she is vacationing with her small daughter.Read more ›
On the positive side, she has not lost her touch for incredible character development. While most of the stories involve murder, they also touch on other highly interesting and sometimes perverse topical areas. Her story "Doll" is truly fascinating as she centers on a kiddie prostitution scheme which is run by the girls father. He had developed a concept that is `look, don't touch.' The clients get to have an hour with Doll, a radiant girl of about 13 who undresses for them and poses, talks and watches TV, while the "John" gets excited.
Her story "Angel of Wrath" is truly an inside look at a very strange and psychopathic boy how is in love with a woman he does not know. Yet still, he believes he has a connection to her. And in fact, before the story is over, he has a very clear connection to her.
It is interestingly noticeable that her longer stories are better than her short ones in this book. With more words, she can be more precise about the nature of the sociopathic behaviors she is describing. Some of the shorter stories are lacking in the development, and also lacking in the ending. They do not give you the typical feeling that her stories usually do. She seems to be fond in this book, of leaving as much up to the imagination of the reader as possible. In some cases, too much to the reader.Read more ›
One of the most chilling tales is "Doll: A Romance of the Mississippi," a story about perpetually eleven-year old Doll, a shrewd child prostitute prone to "mean moods." Oates plunges into the psyches of both Doll and her (step)father Ira, exposing the deranged and macabre relationship between the two: what keeps them together and what divides them. "Hunger" is equally memorable, although less for its actual violence than for the way Oates develops the story of a woman hungry for passion. Kristine is vacationing on Cape Cod with her six year old daughter when she meets a mysterious stranger on the beach. When the stranger begins to show up at the upscale parties thrown in Kristine's circle, Kristine finds herself driven to possess him. But her actions have repercussions she does not expect. "The Haunting" focuses on the horrifying hallucinations (or are they?) of a girl whose mother is said to have burned her father alive. The more experimental "Angel of Mercy" entwines the lives of a long-dead, infamous nurse with the youngest nurse of the ward nicknamed "the City of the Damned." "So Help Me God," the story of a woman prompted to take action against her controlling husband after receiving a series of anonymous calls, is less successful, primarily because the motivation Oates provides is more overlaid than deep-seated in the protagonist.
Each story is this collection varies enough from the others to keep the reader's attention through one sitting or many.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I often judge a thriller or tale of suspense by how many times I miss my stop on the subway while ensnared in the serpentine twists and hairpin turns of the plot. Read morePublished on February 24, 2014 by Jim Algie
Read the 1st 2 chapters and gave it away. Nothing thrilling here. Just mean and pointless. Zero mystery, don't waste your time on these short stories.Published on December 14, 2013 by dollfun
This was my 1st experience reading anything written by Joyce Carol Oates and I was extremely disappointed after hearing so many glowing reviews regarding her writing. Read morePublished on January 15, 2011 by L. A. Vitale
This short story collection centers around the workings of the female minds, from six years of age onwards. Read morePublished on June 5, 2009 by Yuni
This collection of short storis examines the capacity of women to do evil. Bringing us into the depths of horror, Oates's protagonists range in age, interest, and situation. Read morePublished on November 5, 2008 by LH422
The violence is gratuitous. pointless, and just plain stupid. As are these stories. A women commits the capital crime of being married to an older wealthy man. Read morePublished on July 13, 2008 by Nick C
The world portrayed in Joyce Carol Oates fiction is one filled with sudden violence, violence that more times than not comes at the expense of one of her female characters. Read morePublished on August 11, 2007 by Sam Sattler
I have been an Oates fan for 20 years or more--since I was a teenager and found my mother's copy of "Where are you Going, Where have you been? Read morePublished on March 12, 2007 by Liz Cary