Synopses & Reviews
A gripping and moving new collection of stories that reimagines the meaning of loss—through often unexpected and violent means.
Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore how the power of violence, loss, and grief shape both the psyche and the soul—shows us an author work-ing at the height of her powers.
With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of “ordinary” life. From a desperate man who dons a jack-o-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship, to a “story of a stabbing” many times recounted in the life of a lonely girl; from a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father, to a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin; from a professors wife who finds herself tragically isolated at a party in her own house, to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation, each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oatess trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic—the comming-ling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life—and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.
"Oates's latest collection explores certain favorite Oatesian themes, primary among them violence, loss, and privilege. Three of the stories feature white, upper-class, educated widows whose sheltered married lives have left them unprepared for life alone. In 'Pumpkin-Head' and 'Sourland,' the widows--Hadley in the first story, Sophie in the second--encounter a class of Oatesian male: predatory, needy lurkers just out of prosperity's reach. In the first story, our lurker is Anton Kruppe, a Central European immigrant and vague acquaintance of Hadley whose frustrations boil over in a disastrous way. In the second story, Sophie is contacted by Jeremiah, an old friend of her late husband, and eventually visits him in middle-of-nowhere northern Minnesota, where she discovers, too late, his true intentions. The third widow story, 'Probate,' concerns Adrienne Myer's surreal visit to the courthouse to register her late husband's will, but Oates has other plans for Adrienne, who is soon lost in a warped bureaucratic funhouse worthy of Kafka. Oates's fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Oates's latest collection explores certain favorite Oatesian themes primary among them violence loss and privilege. Three of the stories feature white upper class educated widows whose sheltered married lives have left them unprepared for life alone. In "Pumpkin Head" and "Sourland" the widows Hadley in the first story Sophie in the second encounter a class of Oatesian male: predatory needy lurkers just out of prosperity's reach. In the first story our lurker is Anton Kruppe a Central European immigrant and vague acquaintance of Hadley whose frustrations boil over in a disastrous way. In the second story Sophie is contacted by Jeremiah an old friend of her late husband and eventually visits him in middle of nowhere northern Minnesota where she discovers too late his true intentions. The third widow story "Probate" concerns Adrienne Myer's surreal visit to the courthouse to register her late husband's will but Oates has other plans for Adrienne who is soon lost in a warped bureaucratic funhouse worthy of Kafka. Oates's fiction has the curious morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
“Oates remains . . . a living master of the short story-far more virtuosic in manner than the ecstatic realist she is usually taken to be and far more at home in the form, too.” Buffalo News
“Oates is just a fearless writer. . . with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.” Los Angeles Times
“Oatess fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. Its a testament to Oatess talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look.” Publishers Weekly
“We think of Oates, like Poe, as a master of terror, but her real mastery is in almost never depicting a strong emotion in isolation...Oates makes for a caustic companion in Sourland - a fearless experimenter forcing the reader ahead of her at knifepoint.” Los Angeles Times
“Making sense of life in a cataclysmic inner and outer landscape has been Joyce Carol Oates obsession for five decades. This evocative new collection shows just how much sense she can make of it now.” Chicago Tribune
“...Vivid...the work reflects a delicious boundary-crossing mix of literary artistry and genre-writing skill...This famously prolific writer continues to surprise us, and that in itself is something to celebrate.” Library Journal
“A master class in the art of pure, suspenseful storytelling...Oates is a dangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one who takes risks almost obsessively with energy and relish… [a] dazzling collection.” New York Times
“...Innovative, brilliant...there are sentences that leave a deeply sensuous pleasure in their wake...” San Francisco Chronicle
From a "New York Times"-bestselling author comes a gripping and moving new collection which reimagines the meaning of loss--often through violent means.
“Oates is a fearless writer.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Oates is a master of the dark tale—stories of the hunted and the hunter, of violence, trauma, and deep psychic wounds.”
—Booklist (starred review)
Sourland is a gripping, haunting, and intensely moving collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, one of Americas preeminent authors. Unforgettable tales that re-imagine the meaning of loss—often through violent means—Sourland is yet another extraordinary read from the literary icon who has previously brought us The Gravediggers Daughter, Blonde, We Were the Mulvaneys, and numerous other classic works of contemporary fiction.
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 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 We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. 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.