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Jane SmileyOates's world is our world: crass at best and vile at worst, and American to the core. But we keep returning, and we do so for the same reason I went on with A Fair Maiden—not because Marcus and Katya are winning or even enlightening, but because Oates's ability to plot is like no other writer's. It's as if she has a direct channel to the reader's mind. Just when the novel or story becomes too disagreeable (or too true, depending on your view of things) to continue with, she offers a little twist of action or motivation that turns a few more pages, and the reader wonders all over again, how did she think of that?
—The Washington Post