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A Widow's Story: A Memoir

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A Widow's Story: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9780062015532
ISBN10: 0062015532
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Joyce Carol Oates has never been one to shy away from difficult topics. So, when her husband of 47 years unexpectedly died in 2008, she naturally chose to write about her devastating loss. Every bit as moving and heartfelt as Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking, A Widow's Story is Oates at her most powerful.
Recommended by Shawn D., Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Grief is an overpowering, devastating illness, and if it had evolved in the species as terminal, homo sapiens would have stubbed itself out long ago from the rapid-cycling sensations of drowning, burning, suffocating and going mad. That righteous smackdown is grief's universal. But as with everything else, the drama rests in the particulars, and a rising tide of such stories appears destined for its own shelf at Powell's: Great Women Writers Contemplate Widowhood." Anne Saker, The Oregonian (Read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of forty-six years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.

"My husband died, my life collapsed."

On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray died from a virulent hospital-acquired infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced—totally unprepared — with the stunning reality of widowhood.

A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death-duties," and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief — the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow's desperation — only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.

Review:

"Early one morning in February 2008, Oates drove her husband, Raymond Smith, to the Princeton Medical Center where he was admitted with pneumonia. There, he developed a virulent opportunistic infection and died just one week later. Suddenly and unexpectedly alone, Oates staggered through her days and nights trying desperately just to survive Smith's death and the terrifying loneliness that his death brought. In her typically probing fashion, Oates navigates her way through the choppy waters of widowhood, at first refusing to accept her new identity as a widow. She wonders if there is a perspective from which the widow's grief is sheer vanity, this pretense that one's loss is so very special that there has never been a loss quite like it. In the end, Oates finds meaning, much like many of Tolstoy's characters, in the small acts that make up and sustain ordinary life. When she finds an earring she thought she'd lost in a garbage can that raccoons have overturned, she reflects, 'If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash.' At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"In a narrative as searing as the best of her fiction, Oates describes the aftermath of her husband Ray's unexpected death from pneumonia…It’s the painful, scorchingly angry journey of a woman struggling to live in a house "from which meaning has departed, like air leaking from a balloon." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Astonishing…revelatory…[A Widow’s Story] is remarkable…for how candidly Oates explores the writer’s secret life: the private world of her marriage, which…she asserts is far truer and more real, and of far greater importance, than any of her imaginary creations." Book Forum

Review:

"[Oates] shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Flourishes of black humor punctuate the drumbeat of grief, setting the book apart from works such as Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking." Kirkus

Synopsis:

Unlike anything Joyce Carol Oates has written before, A Widows Story is the universally acclaimed authors poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of Raymond Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath. A recent recipient of National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Oates, whose novels (Blonde, The Gravediggers Daughter, Little Bird of Heaven, etc.) rank among the very finest in contemporary American fiction, offers an achingly personal story of love and loss. A Widows Story is a literary memoir on a par with The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Calvin Trillins About Alice.

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde (a finalist for the National Book Award), and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls (winner of the 2005 Prix Femina) and The Gravedigger's Daughter.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

M Kassapa, January 20, 2012 (view all comments by M Kassapa)
You've read memoirs but never a book this intimate. Death denial is so widespread that you'd never imagine that a woman who has written nearly a hundred books (including many plays and novels), who is happily married to a man she has spent nearly every day of the last forty-seven years, could live in a world where she thought this would never happen to her. This book is intimate in ways that it's hard to talk about. So well written, so honest, not only do you feel like you're right there with her, you feel as if you are her. No separation. I lingered with every word, every emotion I felt. Her life will never be the same and neither will mine for having read her book.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
ReadingNknittin, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by ReadingNknittin)
Yea another Joyce Carol Oats book. I bet she always gets nominated for these things. And I bet she wins. The funny thing is, I haven't really read any of her books all the way through. The same with this book. I read the first couple of pages and I was hooked. Then I checked it out of the library (sorry Powell's. I'll buy it when it comes out in paperback) and it was so huge I didn't finish it in time. There were a lot of holds. Anyway, her long sentences build up and grab me. Her dense descriptions coupled with plot lines kept me attentive. Sometimes she can be a bit much and I have to put her down and pick up some knitting. But I should read more of her work. She is probably our best known female writer we have. Well, the most prolific anyway. I admire that kind of drive. You can sense she just has much to say.
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M Kassapa, December 1, 2011 (view all comments by M Kassapa)
In contrast to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Joyce Carol Oates' memoir about the death of her husband explores every avenue of grief. Her style is so intimate that you feel right there in the room with her, right in her heart and mind as she explores loss. How well did she really know her husband? Do the cats really hold her accountable for his death? She explores every aspect of both knowing her husband and knowing herself as a widow. It is a courageous book that will touch your heart.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780062015532
Author:
Oates, Joyce Carol
Publisher:
Ecco Press
Author:
Gott, Barry
Author:
Hopkins, Lee Bennett
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Readers - Beginner
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
I Can Read Book 2
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from K to 3
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 8.48 oz
Age Level:
from 4 to 8

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Grief

A Widow's Story: A Memoir Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Ecco - English 9780062015532 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Joyce Carol Oates has never been one to shy away from difficult topics. So, when her husband of 47 years unexpectedly died in 2008, she naturally chose to write about her devastating loss. Every bit as moving and heartfelt as Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking, A Widow's Story is Oates at her most powerful.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Early one morning in February 2008, Oates drove her husband, Raymond Smith, to the Princeton Medical Center where he was admitted with pneumonia. There, he developed a virulent opportunistic infection and died just one week later. Suddenly and unexpectedly alone, Oates staggered through her days and nights trying desperately just to survive Smith's death and the terrifying loneliness that his death brought. In her typically probing fashion, Oates navigates her way through the choppy waters of widowhood, at first refusing to accept her new identity as a widow. She wonders if there is a perspective from which the widow's grief is sheer vanity, this pretense that one's loss is so very special that there has never been a loss quite like it. In the end, Oates finds meaning, much like many of Tolstoy's characters, in the small acts that make up and sustain ordinary life. When she finds an earring she thought she'd lost in a garbage can that raccoons have overturned, she reflects, 'If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash.' At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "Grief is an overpowering, devastating illness, and if it had evolved in the species as terminal, homo sapiens would have stubbed itself out long ago from the rapid-cycling sensations of drowning, burning, suffocating and going mad. That righteous smackdown is grief's universal. But as with everything else, the drama rests in the particulars, and a rising tide of such stories appears destined for its own shelf at Powell's: Great Women Writers Contemplate Widowhood." (Read the entire Oregonian review)
"Review" by , "In a narrative as searing as the best of her fiction, Oates describes the aftermath of her husband Ray's unexpected death from pneumonia…It’s the painful, scorchingly angry journey of a woman struggling to live in a house "from which meaning has departed, like air leaking from a balloon."
"Review" by , "Astonishing…revelatory…[A Widow’s Story] is remarkable…for how candidly Oates explores the writer’s secret life: the private world of her marriage, which…she asserts is far truer and more real, and of far greater importance, than any of her imaginary creations."
"Review" by , "[Oates] shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood."
"Review" by , "Flourishes of black humor punctuate the drumbeat of grief, setting the book apart from works such as Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking."
"Synopsis" by , Unlike anything Joyce Carol Oates has written before, A Widows Story is the universally acclaimed authors poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of Raymond Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath. A recent recipient of National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Oates, whose novels (Blonde, The Gravediggers Daughter, Little Bird of Heaven, etc.) rank among the very finest in contemporary American fiction, offers an achingly personal story of love and loss. A Widows Story is a literary memoir on a par with The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Calvin Trillins About Alice.
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