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Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the National Book Award and in print for more than thirty years, them ranks as one of the most masterly portraits of postwar America ever written by a novelist. Including several new pages and text substantially revised and updated by the author, this Modern Library edition is the most current and accurate version available of Oates' seminal work.
A novel about class, race, and the horrific, glassy sparkle of urban life, them chronicles the lives of the Wendalls, a family on the steep edge of poverty in the windy, riotous Detroit slums. Loretta, beautiful and dreamy and full of regret by age sixteen, and her two children, Maureen and Jules, make up Oates' vision of the American fam-ily--broken, marginal, and romantically proud. The novel's title, pointedly uncapitalized, refers to those Americans who inhabit the outskirts of society--men and women, mothers and children--whose lives many authors in the 1960s had left unexamined. Alfred Kazin called her subject "the sheer rich chaos of American life." The Nation wrote, "When Miss Oates' potent, life-gripping imagination and her skill at narrative are conjoined, as they are preeminently in them, she is a prodigious writer."
In addition to the text revisions, this--new edition contains an Afterword by the author and a new Introduction by Greg Johnson, Oates' biographer and the author of two monographs on the work of Joyce Carol Oates.
A sprawling novel about the sparkling grit of post-war urban life, them (please note that the title is not capitalized) is the story of Maureen Wendall, daughter of working class parents, and her struggle to survive the economic and social straits into which she is born. Written with the passion and psychological insight for which Oates is known, them ranks as one of her greatest novels, as well as one of the great works of fiction of the second half of the 20th century. With its sweeping view of a particular time and place (Detroit, the 1950s and 60s), and its vast emotional perception of both male and female characters, them, upon its original publication, confirmed to the literary world that Oates's vision of a fictional America weighs in as forcefully as those of Updike, Roth, and Bellow.
About the Author
One of the most versatile and accomplished writers of our time, Oates has influenced the American literary landscape perhaps even more than we realize. The New York Times Book Review suggests, "With occasional exceptions (Joyce, Flaubert), we finally care most about novelists like Dickens, George Eliot, Balzac, Tolstoy, Hardy, James, Conrad, Lawrence or Faulkner whose work is copious enough to constitute a 'world,' and though no guarantees can be offered, energy like Joyce Carol Oates' may find an eventual reward."
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