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The bonds of family are tested in the wake of a profound tragedy, providing a look at the darker side of our society by one of our most enduringly popular and important writers
Night Sleep Death The Stars is a gripping examination of contemporary America through the prism of a family tragedy: when a powerful parent dies, each of his adult children reacts in startling and unexpected ways, and his grieving widow in the most surprising way of all.
Stark and penetrating, Joyce Carol Oates’s latest novel is a vivid exploration of race, psychological trauma, class warfare, grief, and eventual healing, as well as an intimate family novel in the tradition of the author’s bestselling We Were the Mulvaneys.
A New York Times Notable Book
The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet. But something happens on Valentine’s Day, 1976—an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home—that rends the fabric of their family life...with tragic consequences. Years later, the youngest son attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys’ former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that brought about the family’s tragic downfall.
Profoundly cathartic, this extraordinary novel unfolds as if Oates, in plumbing the darkness of the human spirit, has come upon a source of light at its core. Moving away from the dark tone of her more recent masterpieces, Joyce Carol Oates turns the tale of a family struggling to cope with its fall from grace into a deeply moving and unforgettable account of the vigor of hope and the power of love to prevail over suffering.
“It’s the novel closest to my heart....I’m deeply moved that Oprah Winfrey has selected this novel for Oprah’s Book Club, a family novel presented to Oprah’s vast American family.”—Joyce Carol Oates
Sixteen-year-old Katya Spivak is out for a walk on the gracious streets of Bayhead Harbor with her two summer babysitting charges when she’s approached by silver-haired, elegant Marcus Kidder. At first his interest in her seems harmless, even pleasant; like his name, a sort of gentle joke. His beautiful home, the children’s books he’s written, his classical music, the marvelous art in his study, his lavish presents to her—Mr. Kidder’s life couldn’t be more different from Katya’s drab working-class existence back home in South Jersey, or more enticing. But by degrees, almost imperceptibly, something changes, and posing for Mr. Kidder’s new painting isn’t the lighthearted endeavor it once was.
What he wants from Katya is something she can’t comprehend. What Katya wants from him is something else again. As their relationship deepens, and twists, the question is who’s seducing whom? And to what end?
From a National Book Award winner and #1 New York Times bestselling author, A Fair Maiden is “fresh, current and gripping . . . the insight shrewd and the violence vivid . . . [an] intense and thought-provoking work of fiction”(New Statesman).
Less than twenty-four hours after exchanging vows with her new husband, Willem, Abby steps out into traffic. As his wife lies in her hospital bed, sleeping in fits and starts, Willem tries to determine whether this was an absentminded accident or a premeditated plunge, and he quickly discovers a mysterious set of clues about what his wife might be hiding. Why, for example is there a rash-like red mark circling her wrist? What does she dream about that causes her to wake from the sound of her own screams?
Slowly, Abby begins to open up to her husband, revealing to him what she has never shared with anyone before—a story of a terrified mother; a jealous, drug-addled father; a daughter’s terrifying captivity; and the demons behind her terrible recurring dreams of wandering through a field ridden with human skulls and bones…
From a recipient of a National Book Award and three Bram Stoker Awards, this suspenseful, twisting tale, named one of the scariest books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, is a “fast-paced examination of the destructive and restorative nature of obsessive love” (Booklist).
A young girl's disappearance rocks a community and a family in this stirring examination of grief, faith, justice, and the atrocities of war from Joyce Carol Oates, "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation)
Zeno Mayfield's daughter has disappeared into the night, gone missing in the wilds of the Adirondacks. But when the community of Carthage joins a father's frantic search for the girl, they discover the unlikeliest of suspects—a decorated Iraq War veteran with close ties to the Mayfield family. As grisly evidence mounts against the troubled war hero, the family must wrestle with the possibility of having lost a daughter forever.
Carthage plunges us deep into the psyche of a wounded young corporal haunted by unspeakable acts of wartime aggression, while unraveling the story of a disaffected young girl whose exile from her family may have come long before her disappearance.
Dark and riveting, Carthage is a powerful addition to the Joyce Carol Oates canon, one that explores the human capacity for violence, love, and forgiveness, and asks if it's ever truly possible to come home again.
No other writer can match the impressive oeuvre of Joyce Carol Oates. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006 gathers short fiction from the acclaimed author's seminal collections and includes eleven new tales that further demonstrate the breathtaking artistry and striking originality of an incomparable talent who "has imbued the American short story with an edgy vitality and raw social surfaces" (Chicago Tribune).
Includes “Big Momma,” a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Short Story
Here are six of Joyce Carol Oates’s most “frightening—and deeply disturbing—short stories” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In the titular story, a boy becomes obsessed with his cousin’s doll after her tragic death. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls” from surrounding neighborhoods . . . each with its own sinister significance.
In “Gun Accident,” a teenage girl is delighted to house-sit for her favorite teacher, until an intruder forces his way inside—changing more than one life forever. The collection closes with the taut tale of a mystery bookstore owner whose designs on a rare bookshop in scenic New Hampshire devolve into a menacing game with real-life consequences. “At the heart of each story is a predator-prey relationship, and what makes them so terrifying is that most of us can easily picture ourselves as the prey, at least at some time during our lives” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
“Everything she writes, in whatever genre, has an air of dread, because she deals in vulnerabilities and inevitabilities, in the desperate needs that drive people . . . to their fates. A sense of helplessness is the essence of horror, and Oates conveys that feeling as well as any writer around.” —Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review
“One of the stranger parts of the human condition may be our deep fascination, and at times troubling exploration, of the darker aspects of our nature . . . No other author explores the ugly, and at times, blazingly unapologetic underbelly of these impulses quite like Joyce Carol Oates in The Doll-Master.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“In her new collection . . . [Oates] relishes moments of gothic melodrama, while rooting them firmly in grindingly ordinary American lives.” —The Guardian
“Oates convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the macabre with this superlative story collection . . . This devil’s half-dozen of dread and suspense is a must read.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A painful truth of family life: the most tender emotions can change in an instant. You think your parents love you but is it you they love, or the child who is theirs?” --Joyce Carol Oates, My Life as a Rat
Which should prevail: loyalty to family or loyalty to the truth? Is telling the truth ever a mistake and is lying for one’s family ever justified? Can one do the right thing, but bitterly regret it?
My Life as a Rat follows Violet Rue Kerrigan, a young woman who looks back upon her life in exile from her family following her testimony, at age twelve, concerning what she knew to be the racist murder of an African-American boy by her older brothers. In a succession of vividly recalled episodes Violet contemplates the circumstances of her life as the initially beloved youngest child of seven Kerrigan children who inadvertently “informs” on her brothers, setting into motion their arrests and convictions and her own long estrangement.
Arresting and poignant, My Life as a Rat traces a life of banishment from a family—banishment from parents, siblings, and the Church—that forces Violet to discover her own identity, to break the powerful spell of family, and to emerge from her long exile as a “rat” into a transformed life.
As powerful and relevant today as it was on its initial publication, them chronicles the tumultuous lives of a family living on the edge of ruin in the Detroit slums, from the 1930s to the 1967 race riots. Praised by The Nation for her “potent, life-gripping imagination,” Joyce Carol Oates traces the aspirations and struggles of Loretta Wendall, a dreamy young mother who is filled with regret by the age of sixteen, and the subsequent destinies of her children, Maureen and Jules, who must fight to survive in a world of violence and danger.
Winner of the National Book Award, them is an enthralling novel about love, class, race, and the inhumanity of urban life. It is, raves The New York Times, “a superbly accomplished vision.”
Them is the third novel in the Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and Wonderland, are also available from the Modern Library.
[Oates is] a superb storyteller. For sheer readability, them is unsurpassed.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Une plongée inquiétante dans les psychés troublées de femmes presque ordinaires.
Qu'elles soient veuves, célibataires ou adolescentes, les femmes qui habitent ce recueil se retrouvent inévitablement confrontées aux menaces du monde extérieur, provoquant en elles un sursaut de révolte...
Il en va ainsi de Jill, qui comprend trop tard les intentions malsaines de son beau et mystérieux cousin ; de Stephanie, jeune fille mal dans sa peau, jalouse de sa sœur aînée et attirée par le même garçon, qui finit par prendre le mors aux dents. Ou encore de Mariana, qui fait une découverte des plus perturbante dans la maison qu'elle partageait avec son défunt mari. Claudia, quant à elle, est obsédée par les oiseaux du lac tout proche, et nourrit le fantasme de se transformer en héron vengeur pour régler son compte à un beau-frère trop entreprenant. Explorant avec brio la frontière ténue entre fantasmagorie et réalité, les sept nouvelles rassemblées ici nous font pénétrer dans le quotidien de personnages vulnérables, en prise avec la violence qui les entoure. Qu'elle prenne la forme d'un père abusif ou d'une compagnie aérienne outrageusement zélée, c'est bien la folie qui règne dans l'univers de la grande Joyce Carol Oates.
Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. In A Garden of Earthly Delights, Oates presents one of her most memorable heroines, Clara Walpole, the beautiful daughter of Kentucky-born migrant farmworkers. Desperate to rise above her haphazard existence of violence and poverty, determined not to repeat her mother’s life, Clara struggles for independence by way of her relationships with four very different men: her father, a family man turned itinerant laborer, smoldering with resentment; the mysterious Lowry, who rescues Clara as a teenager and offers her the possibility of love; Revere, a wealthy landowner who provides Clara with stability; and Swan, Clara’s son, who bears the psychological and spiritual burden of his mother’s ambition.
A Garden of Earthly Delights is the first novel in the Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, Expensive People, them, and Wonderland, are also available from the Modern Library.