Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories

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Joyce Carol Oates is a great and prolific writer. In this book, the reader finds a collection of short stories previously in magazines or online. The title of the book is an allusion to the Robert Frost poem Stopping By the Woods on A Snowy Evening. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep.” Like the poem, Oates’ stories are staged where civilization drops away and wildness (or madness) prevails. The stories are deep and disturbing. This reader could not read more than one at a sitting – one needs time to let the story sink in and recover from the stress of their gothic situations.

There are fourteen stories in all, many tangential to the publishing world. In two, the central character is an offbeat poetess, much like the author herself. In all of them, there is a dreamlike quality. In “Forked River Roadside Shrine, South Jersey,” the memorialized driver is angered by his shrine and those who come to grieve his death. He had been taken too quickly “My crappy kid’s life. It was mostly a shitty life wasn’t it, OK but I miss it.” He hadn’t had time to mature and consider the consequences of his impulsive actions, and he was stuck in the nether land of his unlived life.

All of the stories are powerful, dark, and deep. Every parent will resonate with “Betrayal,” as the son leaves childhood behind for something less prescribed. Great writing once again from Oates.


Reviewed By:

Author Joyce Carol Oates
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 420 pages
Publisher Ecco
Publish Date 2014-Sep-09
ISBN 9780062356949
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2014
Category Modern Literature
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