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Faithless: Tales of Transgression
Synopses & Reviews
In this collection of twenty-one unforgettable stories, Joyce Carol Oates explores the mysterious private lives of men and women with vivid, unsparing precision and sympathy. By turns interlocutor and interpreter, magician and realist, she dissects the psyches of ordinary people and their potential for good and evil with chilling understatement and lasting power.
In "Faithless," two adult sisters recall their mother's disappearance when they were children. In "Ugly," a bitterly angry young woman defines herself as ugly as a way of making herself invulnerable to hurt and in so doing hurts others. In "Lover," a beautiful young woman locked into an obsessive love affair seeks her revenge in a bizarre, violent manner. In "Gunlove," a woman in thrall to a powerful erotic fetishism recounts in brief, deadpan vignettes a history of her relations with firearms.
Intense and provocative, Faithless is a startling look into the heart of contemporary America from the modern master of the short story.
"The redoubtable and prolific author has here gathered a corpus of stories that appeared previously in Playboy, Harper's, Granta, and The Paris Review, among other publications. Although the photograph of an embracing couple on the cover of the dust-jacket along with the use of the word 'transgressions' in the title give a certain titillating impression, the stories are in fact about all kinds of stories, about aging, rage, obsession, etc. The range of the stories is indeed impressive, as is their power to enthrall the reader with their literary craft. In one powerful and unforgettable story, 'Ugly,' the author tells of how an ugly young woman copes with her very ugliness: a land of inverted parable of our own age, obsessed by cosmetics and superficial beauty." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Stories featuring themes like terror, female passion, male identity, loneliness, divorce, death and gun ownership, by an immensely productive author who wants us to be afraid of ourselves and shows us why." The New York Times Book Review, Summer Reading 2001 selection
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including Broke Heart Blues, We Were The Mulvaneys, Black Water, and Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart. A recipient of the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers of America and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
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