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 May 27, 2005

    Just finished the book this morning . . .

    Listened to Anna Fields' audio version of 'The Falls.' Loved it! I read the critique by the reviewer who raved on and on about the long sentences, word usage, etc. All I can say is the reviewer 'just doesn't get it.' The book was written that way for a purpose --- to create a mood --- 'The Falls' --- get it? That lives can be swept away by forces --- the writing conveys a perfect haunting, drowning mood --- which is exactly what a book about 'The Falls' should do.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Great book

    Joyce Carol Oates is my favorite author. She writes with depth and elegant prose. This is not a beach read. You have to commit.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    Interesting

    The flow of the book was a little different. You were introduced to the nuances of a characters one by one. It was an interesting story but I didn't love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2006

    A very nice suprise

    I really enjoyed this book. The writing is beautiful. Interesting story line, well developed characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Oates never disappoints

    Always enjoy oates. Digs deep into the murkiness of the human soul and pulls out the best along with the worst. If you like easy reads do not bother. Her books are pschological probers. Makes you think about life and human nature

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Haunting Read

    This book is a somber drama. The characters are interesting and the book is haunting. An interesting read.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Took while to get into this book (I could do without all the wor

    Took while to get into this book (I could do without all the wordy history background) but I'm so glad I did.  It just kept getting better and better right to the very end.  Ariah is the mother you love to hate yet oddly admire in many ways.  It's hard to relate to her but the effect she has on her children is powerful.as is this tale right until the end. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2004

    Great novel except for the ending

    Reading this novel is like reading a real lenghty interesting book that keeps you wondering what next. Unfortunately it falls flat on it's face when it comes to the ending.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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