Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque

Overview

Novelist, poet, dramatist and author of many of the best American short stories of our time, Joyce Carol Oates shows yet another aspect of her unbounded creativity in these tales of the grotesque. Haunted, a collection of sixteen tales that range from classic ghost stories to portrayals of chilling psychological terror, raises the genre to the level of fine literature - complex, multi-layered, and gripping fiction that is very scary indeed. In the title story, "Haunted," the pubescent Melissa and her best friend,...
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Overview

Novelist, poet, dramatist and author of many of the best American short stories of our time, Joyce Carol Oates shows yet another aspect of her unbounded creativity in these tales of the grotesque. Haunted, a collection of sixteen tales that range from classic ghost stories to portrayals of chilling psychological terror, raises the genre to the level of fine literature - complex, multi-layered, and gripping fiction that is very scary indeed. In the title story, "Haunted," the pubescent Melissa and her best friend, the sexually precocious Mary Lou, ignore "no trespassing" signs to explore forbidden houses. But the deserted Minton farm is one place where they should not have gone, and years later Melissa is tormented by her memories of its malevolence...and the murder of Mary Lou. In the novella, "The Model," a sexual threat seems to underlie the interaction between young Sybil Blake and "Mr. Starr," who asks her to be his model, but the truth about her own identity, and his, shows that the danger is lurking in a different part of the heart. The "Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly," a macabre reworking of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw," resurrects the evil of Miss Jessel and Quint, who are up to their old tricks with the children, Miles and Flora, but with new, perverse, and brilliant revelations. The tales in this collection plunge the reader into nightmare worlds where violence slips in unexpectedly, where reality turns into a funhouse mirror, and where American culture goes awry in shocking, provocative ways. Joyce Carol Oates is a master storyteller of the dark side. She writes with skillfully controlled prose, tightly woven plots, and deep psychological insight that make her fictional horror worthy to set alongside the stories of Edgar Allan Poe - and far above all the rest.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The prolific NBA-winning author presents 16 multifarious horror stories ranging from a reworking of James's The Turn of the Screw to macabre, contemporary thrillers. (Feb.)
Library Journal
The prolific Oates here offers 16 high-class horror tales, including a reworking of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw.
Kirkus Reviews
Surging intensity floods nearly every page of Oates's 18th hardcover collection (Where Is Here?, 1992, etc. etc.), these devoted to explorations of the grotesque. It's not as if Oates needs the fantastic to release her imagination: even in her calmer or more domestic outings she baits steel springs for snapping the reader's neckbones. Of the 16 tales here, only one is new ("Blind"), the others—nearly all quite recent—having appeared in well-heeled surroundings (Glamour, Omni, Playboy, Antioch Review, etc.). A collection such as this succeeds if it has even one masterpiece, and here there's at least one, perhaps two or three, while the rest run over with imaginative fury. Top honors go to "The Premonition," in which the deepest horror remains unnamed but is hinted at in the brilliance of a bathtub just scrubbed of blood and gleaming from kitchen cleanser. Oates's variation on Henry James's "Turn of the Screw" is "Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly," in which James's characters reappear incorporeally but are drenched with lust for the unachievable orgasm. In the title story, Oates brings an abandoned farm house to life as if she'd been fed all her life on hot tarpaper roofing and worn kitchen linoleum. "The White Cat" is a variation of Poe's "The Black Cat," and the longish "The Model" of Robert Nathan's Portrait of Jennie, though that sentimental fantasy here turns into a murder/suicide. Least happy story is "The Bingo Master," in which a spinster fails to get herself deflowered. Of the others, especially "Thanksgiving," a grotesquerie on consumer America's Thanksgiving dinner, all rise to a level few living masters of the genre can equal as Oates's forefingers testthe pulse on your throat or wander into your ears. Like swallowing live mice.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452273740
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
In a prolific and varied oeuvre that ranges over essays, plays, criticism, and several genres of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates has proved herself one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world.

Biography

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most influential and important storytellers in the literary world. She has often used her supreme narrative skills to examine the dark side of middle-class Americana, and her oeuvre includes some of the finest examples of modern essays, plays, criticism, and fiction from a vast array of genres. She is still publishing with a speed and consistency of quality nearly unheard of in contemporary literature.

A born storyteller, Oates has been spinning yarns since she was a little girl too young to even write. Instead, she would communicate her stories through drawings and paintings. When she received her very first typewriter at the age of 14, her creative floodgates opened with a torrent. She says she wrote "novel after novel" throughout high school and college -- a prolificacy that has continued unabated throughout a professional career that began in 1963 with her first short story collection, By the North Gate.

Oates's breakthrough occurred in 1969 with the publication of them, a National Book Award winner that established her as a force to be reckoned with. Since that auspicious beginning, she has been nominated for nearly every major literary honor -- from the PEN/Faulkner Award to the Pulitzer Prize -- and her fiction turns up with regularity on The New York Times annual list of Notable Books.

On average Oates publishes at least one novel, essay anthology, or story collection a year (during the 1970s, she produced at the astonishing rate of two or three books a year!). And although her fiction often exposes the darker side of America's brightest facades – familial unrest, sexual violence, the death of innocence – she has also made successful forays into Gothic novels, suspense, fantasy, and children's literature. As novelist John Barth once remarked, "Joyce Carol Oates writes all over the aesthetical map."

Where she finds the time for it no one knows, but Oates manages to combine her ambitious, prolific writing career with teaching: first at the University of Windsor in Canada, then (from 1978 on), at Princeton University in New Jersey. For all her success and fame, her daily routine of teaching and writing has changed very little, and her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast.

Good To Know

When not writing, Oates likes to take in a fight. "Boxing is a celebration of the lost religion of masculinity all the more trenchant for its being lost," she says in highbrow fashion of the lowbrow sport.

Oates's Black Water, which is a thinly veiled account of Ted Kennedy's car crash in Chappaquiddick, was produced as an opera in the 1990s.

In 2001, Oprah Winfrey selected Oates's novel We Were the Mulvaneys for her Book Club.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Rosamond Smith
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 16, 1938
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lockport, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

Table of Contents

Haunted 3
The Doll 26
The Bingo Master 49
The White Cat 72
The Model 99
Extenuating Circumstances 147
Don't You Trust Me? 154
The Guilty Party 158
The Premonition 172
Phase Change 188
Poor Bibi 211
Thanksgiving 219
Blind 232
The Radio Astronomer 247
Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly 254
Martyrdom 284
An Afterword by the Author 303
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