Book Article

Joyce Carol Oates 101

The prolific recommends five works from her oeuvre

Joyce Carol Oates and ''High Lonesome''

In the 662-page collection High Lonesome, Joyce Carol Oates culls 40 years' worth of her short stories (and includes 10 new ones). Here, the wildly prolific author suggests five go-to works from her own oeuvre.

1. HIGH LONESOME (2006)
''Often my writing is criticized for being very pessimistic and dark, but quite often there are redemptive qualities — like in the story 'Spider Boy,' which is very close to my heart.''

2. BLONDE (2000, paperback)
''It's the imagined life of Marilyn Monroe. That's a once-in-a-lifetime novel. It was quite exhausting. I would like to try something like that again, but I'm not strong enough. I really felt like I would have a breakdown myself.''

3. THE FAITH OF A WRITER (2003, paperback)
''Just a little book of essays — some of them about the craft of fiction — that you could hold right in your hand, while my other ones are really big.''

4. RAPE: A LOVE STORY (2003, paperback)
''I loved writing that little novel. It's only about 120 pages long because each chapter is really short and tight, almost like poetry. I wanted to tell a story that used the voice of a community.''

5. THEM (1969, paperback)
''A novel [about a lower-class, dysfunctional family in '60s Detroit] that's been reprinted more often than any other book of mine. It's like a historical novel in my own life because it was so long ago.''

Originally posted Apr 07, 2006 Published in issue #872 Apr 14, 2006 Order article reprints
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