A gripping and moving new collection of stories that reimagines the meaning of loss - through often unexpected and violent means.
Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland - 16 previously uncollected stories that explore how the power of violence, loss, and grief shape both the psyche and the soul - shows us an author working at the height of her powers.
With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of "ordinary" life. From a desperate man who dons a jack-o'-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship, to a "story of a stabbing" many times recounted in the life of a lonely girl; from a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father, to a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin; from a professor's wife who finds herself tragically isolated at a party in her own house, to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation, each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oates's trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic-the co-mingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life-and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.
©2010 Joyce Carol Oates (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
"Oates's fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is a trenchant book of "cruel fairy tales" in which people are severely tested, profoundly punished, and tragically transformed." (Booklist)
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"Take a hint from the title."
These stories are as "sour" as the title would indicate. Oates has always been a wild card in my reading selections. I never quite know what I'm going to get, and I like that she does not stay with the same types of story line and characterization, but then I am as likely to love one or two and dislike or be neutral about others.
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