Thursday, September 14, 2006

High Lonesome by Joyce Carol Oates

I believe I have already mentioned the heft of this particular work. This is one very large collection of Oates best short stories of which there are hundred's. In fact, the sheer amount of output is often discussed as is the consistently high quality of her work. The short stories in this collection are intense, moody and downright creepy in turn. The major themes of the book are girls and women being preyed on by men, obsession and twisted sexuality. I was particularly taken with "The Cousins" , a holocaust survivor writes to an author that she is sure is her lost cousin, and "Upon A Sweeping Flood", which explores how the mind can break after a natural disaster.

My major criticism of this collection is that her stories are often similar in tone. This can cause an emotional drag that can make it difficult to get through the book in a short time period. These stories need to be sampled over time to truly appreciate the uniqueness of each. Otherwise, this is an exceptional collection.

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