Friday, September 26, 2014

Famous Last Words & Joyce Carol Oates

7th March, 2012 I wrote "I am promising myself that this is the very last time I attempt to finish a JCO. Those I've started before I haven't finished, haven't liked them at all and I have the feeling this much acclaimed author is not for me but we'll see."

30th March, 2012 I wrote "I give up on this author!!

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat but it is not something I like to do especially when it comes to books and well-recognised authors that everyone likes except me. So it might have been in the spirit of 'never, ever, ever , ever give up' that in November of 2013 I picked up The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates from the library shelf.
It might be the spectacularly lurid cover had something to do with it as well!
I couldn't resist what sounded like a mix of Gothic horror - supernatural curses, vampires and all - and historical fiction. Set in Princeton in first decade of the 20th century it features some very interesting real life characters - Woodrow Wilson, Grover Cleveland, Jack London and Upton Sinclair.
I had to eat my words - I really, really liked it!

So searching for R.I.P. reading I was happy to respond to the Evil Eye's beckoning glance and bring it home. Very different from The Accursed this short book of 216p contains four novellas, four chilling tales of love gone wrong. What makes them so frightening is they begin as ordinary, everyday sort of situations.
Love that begins with happiness and hope for the future...

  • a vulnerable young woman becomes the fourth wife of a prominent intellectual.
  • a shy teenager is thrilled with her first boyfriend.
  • a spoiled frat boy is angry his parents won't pay his debts.
  • a woman reveals deeply buried secrets to her lover.
How do these people cope when things go wrong? What is the worst that could possibly happen? This is where Ms Oates takes the reader and the truth is while it might not be the norm these terrible things do happen.

Dark,compelling and disturbing reading! I liked the sharp, concise prose JCO uses to full effect in these novellas and I think I will explore more of her shorter works before tackling any more of her chunksters.

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