Books: Joyce Carol Oates & the Short Story

Oates gets the full ride with her latest short story collection, with reviews here at the New York Times, in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere.

I was first introduced to Joyce Carol Oates when I read her novel Expensive People (1968), and followed her prolific writing career for at least ten years thereafter. Then suddenly, she seemed repetitive, long-winded and quite frankly boring.

However, I continued to admire her output, her tenacity, her liveliness and her ability to sit down at her desk, day after day, and in long-hand, write from early morning to lunch time.

Perhaps like many of her characters, she has grit, that saltiness that comes from climbing ladders, hardscrabble roads and rural living. It was these qualities that first draw me to her work, and which seemed lost with the sheer weight of her meeting a schedule of two new books each year.

But, good, bad, boring, long-winded or repetitive, she like Iris Murdoch, are writers to be valued for bringing the daily lives of their characters to the written page and permitting a glimpse into their psychology, sex lives and interpersonal relationships.

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