© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Book Review: 'Lovely, Dark, Deep'


Joyce Carol Oates is a famously prolific writer and sure enough she has a new book out. It's a collection of 12 short stories and one novella called, "Lovely, Dark, Deep." Our reviewer Alan Cheuse, who has read many a book by Joyce Carol Oates, says it's one to add to your reading list.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: I couldn't resist this but even as it comes on the heels of a new novel and after another story collection because productivity is only one measure of this writer's extraordinary gifts. Another of course is quality, as this new book demonstrate Oates stands as a Giants among us, writing about men and women, ordinary people and profession people, easterners and country folk. The unloved, those caught up in the web of first love, the married and the bereaved. There's a story that comes early in this new book. It takes us on a hike with a 41-year-old woman and her sort of boyfriend who's even older than she thinks and this leads to an apocalyptic encounter with a vicious dog and the truth of the life she's been leading. It disturbed her, Oates recounts in a volatile mix of discernment and rushing emotion, that she was so detached from her family, her relatives and girlhood friends she could feel the deadness seeping into her - the chill indifference. The incident with the dog jolts her awake. Almost every one of these stories jolted me awake. As Virginia Woolf had observed, Oates writes in another of these stories, there's so much more to be seen in a photograph than in the actual subject from which the photograph has been taken. That's true as well for Oates has many stories here. As for the art of it all, as another character in this collection, of famous poet tells a group of young writers at a college she's visiting, poetry is what frightens, it's rare and worth waiting for. The great thing is that with Joyce Carol Oates we never have to wait that long.

SIEGEL: The book is "Lovely, Dark, Deep" by Joyce Carol Oates. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alan Cheuse died on July 31, 2015. He had been in a car accident in California earlier in the month. He was 75. Listen to NPR Special Correspondent Susan Stamburg's retrospective on his life and career.