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
Award-winning author, Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 and grew up in upstate New York.While a scholarship student at Syracuse University, she won the coveted Mademoiselle
fiction contest. She graduated as valedictorian, then earned an M.A. at the University of Wisconsin.In 1968, she began teaching at the University of Windsor.In 1978, she moved to New Jersey to teach creative writing at Princeton University, where she is now the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.
A prolific writer, Joyce Carol Oates has produced some of the most controversial, and lasting, fiction of our time.Her novel, them, set in racially volatile 1960s Detroit, won the 1970 National Book Award. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart focused on an interracial teenage romance. Black Water, a narrative based on the Kennedy-Chappaquiddick scandal, garnered a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and her national bestseller Blonde, an epic work on American icon Marilyn Monroe, became a National Book Award Finalist. Although Joyce Carol Oates has called herself, "a serious writer, as distinct from entertainers or propagandists," her novels have enthralled a wide audience, and We Were the Mulvaneys earned the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.