Customer Reviews for

The Falls

Average Rating 3.5
( 58 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(12)

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(10)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Oates at her most beautiful

THE FALLS is the kind of breathless, unrelenting novel we can only read once or twice a year considering the energy it saps from you. But it¿s a good draining, for the book is like a marathon, and the breathlessness we feel at the end is not strained but earned from wh...
THE FALLS is the kind of breathless, unrelenting novel we can only read once or twice a year considering the energy it saps from you. But it¿s a good draining, for the book is like a marathon, and the breathlessness we feel at the end is not strained but earned from what we are willing to give it, and what it gives to us. Its forceful and fully realized characters allow the plot to pulse along at breakneck speed, and we are rewarded by the enthralling story Oates has spun from her seemingly bottomless imagination. While it may not be the most astounding of Oates¿s numerous dazzling achievements (for me, that novel is WHAT I LIVED FOR), THE FALLS is nonetheless a testament to the idea of fictions as entertainments, and of a novel¿s ability to speak from its own subconscious but compelling narrative voice. Oates¿s evocation of time and place in and around the Niagara Falls area of New York is, as usual, on display to full effect, and the powerful female protagonist (Arriah) becomes¿by novel¿s end¿one of Oates¿s most memorable. If you know anything of Oates¿s corpus, this is a not a small thing. Highly recommended, and highly entertaining.

posted by Anonymous on June 14, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

A gripping novel marred by sloppy writing.

The jacket of the novel proclaims, 'A stunning achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, 'One of the great artistic forces of our time.' (The Nation) 'It alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the Great American novelists.' The generally acerbic Kirkus...
The jacket of the novel proclaims, 'A stunning achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, 'One of the great artistic forces of our time.' (The Nation) 'It alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the Great American novelists.' The generally acerbic Kirkus Reviews wrote a flattering review also: 'It's her best ever and a masterpiece.' So I picked up the bulky book with great expectation of experiencing the joy of reading a good book. Alas, I was quite startled by the sloppy sentences written with very little care for either grammar or style. She says about Dirk Burnaby. 'He, Dirk Burnaby, whom women adored, and some of them happily married rich women, ignored by this woman!' 'The tall gaunt house in Palmyra, New York, mud-colored brick and rotted shingleboards in the roof and a congregation of less than two hundred people, most of them middle-aged and older, to whom the young minister must 'prove' himself.' Did the author mean fewer than two hundred people, not less than two hundred people? About Douglas she writes: 'He was proud husband and father of two-year-old girl twins.' Did she mean twin girls, not girl twins? Joyce uses nouns as adjectives, and adjectives as if they were adverbs. Her sentences grated upon my ears, and I wondered - how could a winner of the National Book Award (for 'Them', 1970) write such sloppy English? The novel is littered with sentences that run almost for ever, leaving readers jaded. I had to stop frequently to follow the author's chain of thoughts. Oh, what is the author trying to say? And often I had the distinct impression that she was trying to enter the Guiness Book of Records for writing the longest sentence in print:' His back bone was snapped, and snapped, and snapped like the dried wishbone of a turkey clutched at by giggling children and his body was flung lifeless as a rag doll at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, lifted and dropped and lifted again amid the rocks and sucked down amid churning water and winking miniature rain drops, lost now to the appalled sight of the sole witness at the railing at Terrapin Point - though shortly it would be regurgitated from the foot of The Falls and swept downriver three-quarters of a mile past the Whilrpool Rapids and into the Devil's Whirlpool where it would be sucked down from sight and trapped in the spiraling water - the broken body would spin like a deranged moon in orbit until, in His mercy, or His whimsy, God would grant the miracle of putrifaction to inflate the body with gases, floating it to the surface of the foaming gyre, and release.' Wow! I found myself longing for the precise and elegant prose of V. S. Naipaul, Joseph Conrad, Yann Martel or Jane Austen. This could have been a wonderful book if only the editor had wielded her/his pencil diligently. Too bad. I found the story quite gripping, though. But the writing is flawed, like a face with beautiful, even angelic, features but marred by acne and pocks.

posted by Anonymous on November 18, 2004

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    A gripping novel marred by sloppy writing.

    The jacket of the novel proclaims, 'A stunning achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, 'One of the great artistic forces of our time.' (The Nation) 'It alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the Great American novelists.' The generally acerbic Kirkus Reviews wrote a flattering review also: 'It's her best ever and a masterpiece.' So I picked up the bulky book with great expectation of experiencing the joy of reading a good book. Alas, I was quite startled by the sloppy sentences written with very little care for either grammar or style. She says about Dirk Burnaby. 'He, Dirk Burnaby, whom women adored, and some of them happily married rich women, ignored by this woman!' 'The tall gaunt house in Palmyra, New York, mud-colored brick and rotted shingleboards in the roof and a congregation of less than two hundred people, most of them middle-aged and older, to whom the young minister must 'prove' himself.' Did the author mean fewer than two hundred people, not less than two hundred people? About Douglas she writes: 'He was proud husband and father of two-year-old girl twins.' Did she mean twin girls, not girl twins? Joyce uses nouns as adjectives, and adjectives as if they were adverbs. Her sentences grated upon my ears, and I wondered - how could a winner of the National Book Award (for 'Them', 1970) write such sloppy English? The novel is littered with sentences that run almost for ever, leaving readers jaded. I had to stop frequently to follow the author's chain of thoughts. Oh, what is the author trying to say? And often I had the distinct impression that she was trying to enter the Guiness Book of Records for writing the longest sentence in print:' His back bone was snapped, and snapped, and snapped like the dried wishbone of a turkey clutched at by giggling children and his body was flung lifeless as a rag doll at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, lifted and dropped and lifted again amid the rocks and sucked down amid churning water and winking miniature rain drops, lost now to the appalled sight of the sole witness at the railing at Terrapin Point - though shortly it would be regurgitated from the foot of The Falls and swept downriver three-quarters of a mile past the Whilrpool Rapids and into the Devil's Whirlpool where it would be sucked down from sight and trapped in the spiraling water - the broken body would spin like a deranged moon in orbit until, in His mercy, or His whimsy, God would grant the miracle of putrifaction to inflate the body with gases, floating it to the surface of the foaming gyre, and release.' Wow! I found myself longing for the precise and elegant prose of V. S. Naipaul, Joseph Conrad, Yann Martel or Jane Austen. This could have been a wonderful book if only the editor had wielded her/his pencil diligently. Too bad. I found the story quite gripping, though. But the writing is flawed, like a face with beautiful, even angelic, features but marred by acne and pocks.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    Lost me in the middle

    I found the story compelling and the writing beautiful, poetic. However, can I be the only reader who found herself completely derailed by the gratuitous graveyard tryst in the middle of the novel? As an avid reader of many genres, I am willing and eager to suspend my disbelief when the story or genre calls for it. This event struck out of nowhere and with no conceivable purpose or justification. The behaviors of the characters in this scene were completely unbelievable. Clearly some catalyst was needed for the events that immediately followed, but given the skill of the writer, surely a plausible event could have been devised! I had a difficult time sinking myself back into the story after having been so blindsided and betrayed by such a bizarre turn.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    Loved it at the start and then where is it going??

    I was instantly enthralled in this book. I loved the beginning but it started to have so mnay plots going in differnt directiosn and nothing tying them together. The end was very disappointing due to nothing ever coming of several plot lines.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 27, 2010

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    Posted September 18, 2010

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