The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
This book is subtitled and Other Tales of Terror. Terror and horror are the writer’s stock and trade. In the hands of a less skilled author, these tales would be too macabre to waste time on, but Oates is one of the finest writers. She always carefully crafts tales so they are eminently readable. The title story The Doll Master tells the tale of a little boy who is forbidden to play with baby dolls. The doll of his dead cousin is taken away from him, but he does find a substitute. Big Momma is the story of a similarly repressed little girl who finds a warm, albeit creepy, family to take her in. Oates deals with helplessness in the face of the unexpected.
The story Equatorial is about a woman who senses her husband is going to kill her on their vacation to Ecuador. The sensation of equatorial heat and oppressiveness is a key character in the story. The woman is on the verge of fainting at any minute. Oates’ stories are strong stuff. Luckily for us, her writing pulls us in.
Joyce Carol Oates