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Book 43

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 43
43 THEM Joyce Carol Oates (USA, 1969)

Spanning from the 30s to the 60s, this novel follows the lives of the Wendalls, a poor family struggling to survive in Detroit. 
Them is a National Book Award winner.

A year ago, I read a short story by Joyce Carol Oates and was instantly blown away by her writing style. While it took me that long to finally read a full novel, I cannot wait to read more of her books.
Them is a short family saga that focuses on poverty and its consequences, gender relations, and identity. It also perfectly captures the generations encompassed in its timeline. 
As previously hinted, the star of this novel is the author's writing style. Joyce is blessed with an amazing ability to recreate a person's thoughts on the page. As a result, my sympathy or lack thereof for the characters became irrelevant, I was simply fascinated by the vividness and poignancy of the language. 
Perhaps my only criticism of this novel is that the dialogues were sometimes too dreamy and elaborate to be exactly realistic. However, their beauty was the pay-off. 



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Might I suggest including the book's title in the post header?
Nov. 17th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
I share posts directly from my journal to other communities, and that's the format of my journal. But I'll try to remember that for next time if it's a pet peeve of yours.
Nov. 17th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
It's only a small peeve, but also if people are looking at journal posts in an RSS feed (as I do) they are more likely to click on a book title that interests them than "Book 43."
Nov. 17th, 2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
JCO has written, and continues to write, a LOT. Perhaps too much, but that's an argument for another time.

The point here is that her style shifts considerably, as do the genres she uses. Notably, she's written a fair amount of what could loosely be called horror, especially as short stories. They can be interesting, but I don't think they are what she'll be remembered for. In the Eighties, she did quite a bit with the Gothic novel (something she's not really ever left behind, I think) including the very well-liked Bellefleur.

For a taste of how her style can change, I'd say try Foxfire. If you've seen the film, try to forget it. This was actually my introduction to JCO and will always have a place in my heart. You'll notice the much different style from them, though it isn't as extreme as in something like Man Crazy, which I think was treated a bit unfairly by lazy critics who didn't seem to get the significance of some of the scenes, which required a pretty close reading that the style doesn't encourage.

Anway, nice to see someone else liking JCO. There's a lot for you to choose from.
Nov. 17th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your help! It is indeed difficult to choose from such a long bibliography.

So far, I had included the Bellefleur you mentioned because I'm curious to see how she works with a gothic mood. I also added We Were the Mulvaneys. Did you read it?

I will definitely look into the other ones you mentioned.

Nov. 18th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
I have not read We Were the Mulvaneys, but I've heard good things about it.

It's been a long time since I've read the email discussion group at Celestial Timepiece, but they were a friendly group and could certainly help with recommendations.

I will say that A Widow's Story, a non-fiction work about her husband's sudden death and dealing with the aftermath, is quite moving, though it is not at all light reading.

Edited at 2012-11-19 03:21 pm (UTC)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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