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The Falls

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The Falls Cover

ISBN13: 9780060722289
ISBN10: 0060722282
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"For 40 years, [Joyce Carol Oates has] coyly enticed us with the gothic details of ordinary life and then — when it's too late — pinned us on the sharp point of her wisdom. I read The Falls, her latest novel, in what seemed like one held breath. Set around Niagara, the story reflects all the romance, mystery, and terror of that spectacular waterfall. It's a great confluence of tones — grotesque and domestic, tragic and comic. The currents of various styles and points of view blend together in a way that can't possibly work, but does." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A stunning, major achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation). A haunting story of the powerful spell Niagara Falls casts upon two generations of a family, leading to tragedy, love, loss, and, ultimately, redemption.

A man climbs over the railings and plunges into Niagara Falls. A newlywed, he has left behind his wife, Ariah Erskine, in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding. "The Widow Bride of The Falls," as Ariah comes to be known, begins a relentless, seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side throughout, confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby is unexpectedly transfixed by the strange, otherworldly gaze of this plain, strange woman, falling in love with her though they barely exchange a word. What follows is their passionate love affair, marriage, and children — a seemingly perfect existence.

But the tragedy by which their life together began shadows them, damaging their idyll with distrust, greed, and even murder. What unfurls is a drama of parents and their children; of secrets and sins; of lawsuits, murder, and, eventually, redemption. As Ariah's children learn that their past is enmeshed with a hushed-up scandal involving radioactive waste, they must confront not only their personal history but America's murky past: the despoiling of the landscape, and the corruption and greed of the massive industrial expansion of the 1950s and 1960s.

Set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls, Joyce Carol Oates explores the American family in crisis, but also America itself in the mid-twentieth century. As in We Were the Mulvaneys, a "darkly engrossing novel" (Washington Post Book World), she examines what happens when the richly interwoven relationships of parents and their children are challenged by circumstances outside the family.

The Falls is a love story gone wrong and righted, and it alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the great American novelists.

Review:

"Oates is not only on her authentically rendered home ground in this sprawling novel set in the city of Niagara Falls during the 1950s, she is also writing at the top of her form. Her febrile prose is especially appropriate to a story as turbulent as the tumultuous waters that have claimed many lives over the years. Widowed on her wedding night when her new husband, a young minister and latent homosexual, throws himself into the falls, Ariah Littrell, the plain, awkward daughter of a minister, henceforth considers herself damned. Her bleak future becomes miraculously bright when Dirk Burnaby, a handsome, wealthy bon vivant with an altruistic heart, falls in love with the media-dubbed Widow-Bride. Their rapturous happiness is shadowed only by Ariah's illogical conviction over the years that Dirk will leave her and their three children someday. Her unreasonable fear becomes self-fulfilling when her increasingly unstable behavior, combined with Dirk's obsessed but chaste involvement with Nina Olshaker, a young mother who enlists his help in alerting the city fathers to the pestilential conditions in the area later to be known as Love Canal, opens a chasm in their marriage. His gentle heart inspired by a need for justice, Dirk takes on the powerful, corrupt politicians, his former peers and pals, in a disastrous lawsuit that ruins him socially and financially and results in his death. Oates adroitly addresses the material of this 'first' class action lawsuit and makes the story fresh and immediate. 'In the end, all drama is about family,' a character muses, and while the narrative occasionally lapses into melodrama in elucidating this theme, Oates spins a haunting story in which nature and humans are equally rapacious and self-destructive. Agent, Jane Hawkins. Author tour. (Sept. 16) Forecast: This is likely to be one of Oates's biggest sellers — its heft, striking setting and sheer excellence should make it her highest-profile novel since Blonde." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This passionate, compulsively readable novel displays the full range of Oates' singular obsessions....Vivid and memorable reading from the madly prolific Oates." Booklist

Review:

"This big, enthralling novel recaptures the gift for Dreiserian realism that distinguishes such Oates triumphs as them, What I Lived For, and We Were the Mulvaneys. It's her best ever — and a masterpiece." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Oates uses the falls metaphor to powerful effect, dramatizing how our lives can get swept up by forces beyond our control. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Powerful, compassionate and ruefully humorous, The Falls is another example of Oates' inexhaustible brilliance." BookPage

Review:

"Oates veterans know that the surest way to survive, and even to get some pleasure from, her fictional world is to treat it as an interesting place to visit, where you wouldn't want to live. So read The Falls swiftly and don't look too closely, or too long. Then move on. Oates will." Terrence Rafferty, The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

In her new novel, set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-20th century, Joyce Carol Oates explores the American family in crisis.

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

fiorediloto, June 21, 2007 (view all comments by fiorediloto)
This is one of the best family sagas I've ever read. After the suicide in the very first page of the novel, all the story is marked by Ariah's obsession with loneliness, that makes the reader be sorry for her and, at the same time, find her incredibly annoying. Ariah is a very interesting, real and original character, living in a world of normal people who make a strange contrast with her bizarre temper.
The style is powerful and clear and focused on the action, even if it's always supported by a strong psychological research.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060722289
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Oates, Joyce Carol
Publisher:
Ecco
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Widows
Subject:
Waterfalls
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Suicide victims
Subject:
Niagara Falls
Subject:
Love Canal Chemical Waste Landfill
Subject:
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series Volume:
2002-106
Publication Date:
20040914
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.20x6.52x1.48 in. 1.81 lbs.

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Falls Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Ecco - English 9780060722289 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Oates is not only on her authentically rendered home ground in this sprawling novel set in the city of Niagara Falls during the 1950s, she is also writing at the top of her form. Her febrile prose is especially appropriate to a story as turbulent as the tumultuous waters that have claimed many lives over the years. Widowed on her wedding night when her new husband, a young minister and latent homosexual, throws himself into the falls, Ariah Littrell, the plain, awkward daughter of a minister, henceforth considers herself damned. Her bleak future becomes miraculously bright when Dirk Burnaby, a handsome, wealthy bon vivant with an altruistic heart, falls in love with the media-dubbed Widow-Bride. Their rapturous happiness is shadowed only by Ariah's illogical conviction over the years that Dirk will leave her and their three children someday. Her unreasonable fear becomes self-fulfilling when her increasingly unstable behavior, combined with Dirk's obsessed but chaste involvement with Nina Olshaker, a young mother who enlists his help in alerting the city fathers to the pestilential conditions in the area later to be known as Love Canal, opens a chasm in their marriage. His gentle heart inspired by a need for justice, Dirk takes on the powerful, corrupt politicians, his former peers and pals, in a disastrous lawsuit that ruins him socially and financially and results in his death. Oates adroitly addresses the material of this 'first' class action lawsuit and makes the story fresh and immediate. 'In the end, all drama is about family,' a character muses, and while the narrative occasionally lapses into melodrama in elucidating this theme, Oates spins a haunting story in which nature and humans are equally rapacious and self-destructive. Agent, Jane Hawkins. Author tour. (Sept. 16) Forecast: This is likely to be one of Oates's biggest sellers — its heft, striking setting and sheer excellence should make it her highest-profile novel since Blonde." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "For 40 years, [Joyce Carol Oates has] coyly enticed us with the gothic details of ordinary life and then — when it's too late — pinned us on the sharp point of her wisdom. I read The Falls, her latest novel, in what seemed like one held breath. Set around Niagara, the story reflects all the romance, mystery, and terror of that spectacular waterfall. It's a great confluence of tones — grotesque and domestic, tragic and comic. The currents of various styles and points of view blend together in a way that can't possibly work, but does." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "This passionate, compulsively readable novel displays the full range of Oates' singular obsessions....Vivid and memorable reading from the madly prolific Oates."
"Review" by , "This big, enthralling novel recaptures the gift for Dreiserian realism that distinguishes such Oates triumphs as them, What I Lived For, and We Were the Mulvaneys. It's her best ever — and a masterpiece."
"Review" by , "Oates uses the falls metaphor to powerful effect, dramatizing how our lives can get swept up by forces beyond our control. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Powerful, compassionate and ruefully humorous, The Falls is another example of Oates' inexhaustible brilliance."
"Review" by , "Oates veterans know that the surest way to survive, and even to get some pleasure from, her fictional world is to treat it as an interesting place to visit, where you wouldn't want to live. So read The Falls swiftly and don't look too closely, or too long. Then move on. Oates will."
"Synopsis" by , In her new novel, set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-20th century, Joyce Carol Oates explores the American family in crisis.
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