Lovely, dark, deep : stories / Joyce Carol Oates.
Booklist Reviews 2014 September #2
Oates, one of few writers who achieves excellence in both the novel and the short story, has more than two dozen story collections to her name and she continues to inject new, ambushing power into the form. Here she zooms in close to characters locked in strange and intense negotiations. In "Sex with Camel," the uneasy banter between a hyper teenage boy and his elegant grandmother indicates a lifetime of tension and fear. Animals play key roles. In "Mastiff," the nervous female narrator with a "wild little laugh" is hiking with a man she doesn't think she'll see again when they encounter a monstrous dog. A jobless Stanford graduate under pressure from his father in "Betrayed" becomes an intern at the bonobo exhibit in the San Diego Zoo and undergoes a disturbing transformation. Oates is at her caustically splendorous best in the title story, a brilliantly choreographed, diabolically brutal pas de deux between the aging poet Robert Frost and a seemingly timid graduate writing student with the Edgar Allan Poe name of Evangeline Fife. Oates' stories seethe and blaze. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2014 September #3
Oates's (Carthage) newest collection characteristically mines the depths of the female psyche to find darkness there. In particular, she deals with women who hide medical procedures—including, presciently, abortion—from their loved ones ("Sex With Camel," "Distance," "‘Stephanos Is Dead'") and with women who struggle to assert themselves in relationships with their artistic, self-absorbed fathers ("Things Passed on the Way to Oblivion," "Patricide") and with lovers ("Mastiff," "A Book of Martyrs," "The Hunter," "The Disappearing"). Throughout, the lines that define these secrets and hidden desires captivatingly blur and dissolve. "The Jesters," about aging suburbanites who eavesdrop on their neighbors' seemingly picture-perfect life as it shatters, conjures both elements, and then ups the ante with a paranormal twist. A pair of longer stories—the title story, "Lovely, Dark, Deep," which is a fictional reimagining of a young poet's interview with Robert Frost in his twilight years, and "Patricide," a longer exploration of a stifling father-daughter bond—expand on these themes. As the interloping fiancée of "Patricide" says of her deceased lover, the Phillip Roth–esque Roland Marks, "He knew women really well—you could say, the masochistic inner selves of women." We might well say the same of Oates, with the same complimentary awe. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC