High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread

High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread

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by Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

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Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals—a brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subway—in the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated. In the title story “High Crime Area,” a white, aspiring

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals—a brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subway—in the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated. In the title story “High Crime Area,” a white, aspiring professor is convinced she is being followed. No need to panic, she has a handgun stowed away in her purse—just in case. But when she turns to confront her black, male shadow, the situation isn’t what she expects. In “The Rescuer,” a promising graduate student detours to inner city Trenton, New Jersey to save her brother from a downward spiral. But she soon finds out there may be more to his world than to hers. And in “The Last Man of Letters,” the world-renowned author X embarks on a final grand tour of Europe. He has money, fame, but not a whole lot of manners. A little thing like etiquette couldn’t bring a man like X down, could it? In these biting and beautiful stories, Oates confronts, one by one, the demons within us. Sometimes it’s the human who wins, and sometimes it’s the demon.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
02/15/2014
Among the most compelling of Oates's many literary personae is the one with a deep-rooted interest in the pathology of criminals and their crimes. Her latest story collection opens with a Roger Ackroyd-like confession that elicits the reader's sympathy before the crime itself is described ("The Home at Craigmillnar"). The other stories range from horror to dark comedy, including a revenge fantasy perpetrated on a misogynistic world-renowned writer ("The Last Man of Letters"). Oates is particularly adept at revealing the lure of the criminal element among failed or failing academics who drift well beyond the statute of limitations of their doctoral degrees. VERDICT These stories take the reader to desolate intersections and grimy tenements that mirror the dark reaches of the human soul; the combined elements of literary fiction with genre fiction and true crime offer added audience appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/13.]—Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA
The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
Some people read poetry at bedtime. Others prefer seed catalogs. May I suggest instead Joyce Carol Oates's new story collection, High Crime Area? These "tales of darkness and dread" won't put you to sleep, but they'll give you more interesting nightmares.
Publishers Weekly
01/13/2014
Oates (Evil Eye) offers unexpected glimmers of redemption amid the grotesquerie, degradation, and exploitation that fill this collection’s eight tales. The volume picks up momentum after the predictable and slow-paced opener, “The Home at Craigmillnar,” as Oates delves into denser, more complex realms in the subsequent entries. Several stories—notably, “High” and the novella-length “The Rescuer”—deal with privileged white women who (perhaps) naively force themselves from their sheltered academic world into situations fraught with economic, racial, sexual, and social tensions. Monstrosity, apathy, and despair plague family relationships in “The Rescuer,” “Demon,” and “Toad-Baby.” Many of the characters’ most intimate connections are with strangers, or with the potential those strangers have to indelibly alter the narrators’ lives for better or worse. Oates is at her best depicting characters who seem perplexed by their own needs, desires, and obligations, and readers seeking tidy resolutions and clear endings won’t find them in these tales. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins and Assoc. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“These ‘tales of darkness and dread’ won’t put you to sleep, but they’ll give you more interesting nightmares. . . . In a way, every story is a character study . . . sure to focus a basilisk eye on the weak spot that reveals our own ugly impulses and make us defenseless against the terrors of the night.”—New York Times Book Review

“[In High Crime Area], there’s little overt violence; it’s all in the mind, as [Oates] slowly tightens the noose. Drenched in clammy atmosphere, Oates’ work explores the heads of both ordinary people and those who are at least a little damaged.”—Seattle Times

“This writer is extraordinary not because she produces such huge amount, but because what she produces is so consistently good. And short stories show her invention, economy and control at its best . . . Oates perfectly captures the atmosphere of fear and well-meaning misunderstanding.”—Times (UK)

“Scary, brooding and entertaining. . . . The despair is palpable and the tension always high in these stories told in a combination of hyper-realism and emotionally charged suspense. Horrific and creepy, High Crime Area still manages to smartly critique American society and its uneasy feelings on race, sexuality, gender, academia and family dynamics.”—Bookreporter

“Oates carries forward the great American dark-tales tradition with spellbinding craft, a cutting female eye, and a keen sense of how the diabolical infiltrates everyday existence. . . . Powerhouse Oates brings both exterior and interior worlds into excruciatingly sharp focus, evoking dread, grim exaltation, and the paralysis of prey. Oates’ potent dark tales are addictive.”—Booklist

“Oates’ mastery of imagery and of stream of consciousness enhances the gritty settings and the frailties of her grotesque and pitiable subjects."—Kirkus Reviews

“Exquisitely written . . . there is no better stylist alive than Joyce Carol Oates. . . . Read High Crime Area and prepare yourself for eight surprises, the number of stories in the book.”—Huntington News

“Oates offers unexpected glimmers of redemption amid the grotesquerie, degradation, and exploitation that fill this collection’s eight tales. . . . Oates is at her best depicting characters who seem perplexed by their own needs, desires, and obligations.”—Publishers Weekly

“These stories take the reader to desolate intersections and grimy tenements that mirror the dark reaches of the human soul; the combined elements of literary fiction with genre fiction and true crime offer added audience appeal.”—Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-04
From Oates (Carthage, 2014, etc.) comes this collection of eight stories, seven previously published, that explore the depths of human despair and cruelty. A retired nun is found dead with a muslin veil over her face in "The Home at Craigmillnar." Although the nun was a cardiac patient, the orderly who reports her death knows enough about her dark past to suggest that she might have died from something other than natural causes. In "High," a lonely widow seeks escape from her grief even as she opens herself up to exploitation by those she once tried to help. A 13-year-old girl has to protect her half brother from an indifferent world and their alcoholic mother in "Toad-Baby." "Lorelei" is a needy woman who searches the subways for love and hopes that people will notice her. In "Demon," a mentally challenged youth goes to extremes to eliminate the sign of the devil in his own body. The would-be heroine of "The Rescuer" is a cultural anthropologist who leaves her ivory tower to save her brother from a terrifying local culture and is slowly pulled into it. "The Last Man of Letters" is an arrogant author who thinks he's receiving the adulation he deserves until he realizes how much he's hated. Finally, an idealistic young teacher in 1967 Detroit has to face the fears that are personified by the man following her in "High Crime Area." Oates is at her best here when she's writing about floundering academics thrust into situations for which they're hopelessly ill-prepared. Oates' mastery of imagery and stream of consciousness enhances the gritty settings and the frailties of her grotesque and pitiable subjects.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802192134
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
591,539
File size:
3 MB

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