High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006

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Overview

No other writer can match the impressive oeuvre of Joyce Carol Oates. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006 gathers short fiction from the acclaimed author's seminal collections and includes eleven new tales that further demonstrate the breathtaking artistry and striking originality of an incomparable talent who "has imbued the American short story with an edgy vitality and raw social surfaces" (Chicago Tribune).
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High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006

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Overview

No other writer can match the impressive oeuvre of Joyce Carol Oates. High Lonesome: New and Selected Stories 1966-2006 gathers short fiction from the acclaimed author's seminal collections and includes eleven new tales that further demonstrate the breathtaking artistry and striking originality of an incomparable talent who "has imbued the American short story with an edgy vitality and raw social surfaces" (Chicago Tribune).
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Editorial Reviews

Cathleen Schine
For those of us who have stood before bookstore shelves lined with Joyce Carol Oates volumes, paralyzed with awe, wondering which of her more than 100 books we should open first, High Lonesome, a new collection of 36 stories written between 1966 and 2006, is a welcome addition. The collection, which includes classic stories like "In the Region of Ice," which won the O. Henry prize in 1967, and the much anthologized "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" as well as 11 new stories, spans Oates's career and gives a remarkably coherent picture of her work.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This hefty collection, featuring 10 new pieces along with stories culled from four decades, further establishes the prolific and wide-ranging Oates as a gifted chronicler of American culture. The theme of girls and women preyed upon by violent men appears repeatedly, as in the much-anthologized "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" (1970) but also in lesser-known pieces like "Small Avalanches" (1974), which turns the tables, as a 13-year-old girl, nimble and laughing, evades a middle-aged, panting lech on a deserted path. Several stories feature characters whose mental instabilities lead to violence, as in "Last Days" (1984), in which a brilliant, manic college student with a Messiah complex assassinates a rabbi, then turns the gun on himself. Though Oates's world is often ugly, she also displays a more fanciful (if still creepy) impulse; the recent piece "Fat Man My Love" finds actress "Pippi" (indubitably Tippi Hedren) puzzling over the director (an unnamed Hitchcock) who both created and ruined her career. While the lurid events of some stories have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, Oates is never merely sensational, tracking hidden motives and emotions with a sharp eye for psychological detail-everything conveyed in lucid, rhythmic prose. However much is made of her prodigious output, it's the consistent quality of the work that lifts Oates into the literary pantheon. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Like a successful rock band putting together a best-of compilation CD, Oates (The Falls) has compiled stories from her 40 years of writing along with nine new ones. Although from her afterword it is not clear that she considers these her best, they do provide a sample of her work. Seven of the nine new opening stories focus on families in disarray, e.g., the title work tells of the unsolved murder of the narrator's stepbrother, while "The Fish Factory" examines the extremes to which a teenage girl goes to escape her overprotective mother. The volume then flashes back to the 1960s and works forward by decade. The first decade's stories exhibit an inventiveness exemplified by "Four Summers," in which a girl's experience over four summers makes her satisfied with her life decisions. The 1970s stories are highlighted by "The Lady with the Pet Dog" and "The Tryst," which reveal two different extramarital affairs that go bad, and the mysterious "Night Side" about investigating s ances. The 1980s stories, such as "My Warszawa: 1980" about a writer's experience at a conference in Communist Poland, reflect Oates's ability to create ironic and often eerie episodes. The 1990s stories are the best in the volume. "The Hair" deals with social hierarchies as two couples become friendly, while stories like "Life After High School," about an outcast student, and "Mark of Satan," which follows a Christian missionary's visit to an ex-con, explore themes of alienation and loneliness in dramatic fashion. For Oates fans and readers who want an overview of her ability to create a snapshot in time, this is an excellent volume. Recommended for larger collections.-Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An imposing collection of 35 stories. Of the 25 stories reprinted here from earlier volumes, the best include a searching treatment of religious experience ("In the Region of Ice"); rich homages to literary masters ("The Dead," "The Lady with the Pet Dog"); a haunting exploration of spiritualism ("Night-Side"); a nicely detailed racetrack story ("Raven's Wing"); and one of the author's creepiest depictions of adolescent sexual confusion ("Heat"). The principle of selection explained in a brief Afterword doesn't account for the omission of some of Oates's very best- notably, one of her finest deployments of symbolism, in "First Views of the Enemy" (since reworked in several later stories) and the compact Dreiserian masterpiece "Waiting." The new stories vary in quality largely according to the degree to which they're overplotted. "*BD* 11 1 87," for example, painstakingly builds a wrenching characterization of a lonely, orphaned high-school senior inexplicably discouraged from realizing his considerable potential-then throws it away as the story spins into banal near-futuristic fantasy. The title story, about an aging farmer destroyed when he's caught in a vice squad sting, almost collapses when emphasis shifts to revenge taken on his behalf-but Oates gives it conviction through understatement and deft pacing. "The Lost Brother," which describes a middleaged woman's determined, doomed search for her estranged sibling, works brilliantly, as everything left unsaid eloquently ensnares the reader. Other stories deal all too predictably and heatedly with shattered families ("Spider-Boy," "Soft-Core," "The Cousins") and sexual violence ("The Fish Factory," "The Gathering Squall," "In Hot May").Then there's "Fat Man My Love," an ironic remembrance of an adipose film-industry giant by one of his "Ice Blondes," which does to the memory of Alfred Hitchcock what Oates did to Marilyn Monroe in the wretched novel Blonde. Who's next? Shirley Temple? Dame Edith Evans? Lassie? Enough, already. Otherwise, a longstanding literary need somewhat successfully addressed with this collection.
Booklist
“This collection of stories that Oates feels are her best is as significant as it is breathtaking.”
Harper's Bazaar
“Illustrious author Joyce Carol Oates is back with a seminal collection spanning five decades...This anthology is a must-read.”
Los Angeles Times
“Oates is just a fearless writer...[with] her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.”
Houston Chronicle
“This big, lavish collection will do for Oates what similar volumes did for Katherine Anne Porter and John Cheever.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060501198
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/11/2006
  • Pages: 672
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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

Read an Excerpt

High Lonesome

Stories 1966-2006
By Joyce Oates

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Joyce Oates
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060501197

Chapter One

Spider Boy

"There are places in the world where people vanish."

His father had said this. His father had spoken flatly, without an air of mystery or threat. It was not a statement to be challenged and it was not a statement to be explained. Later, when his father had vanished out of his life, he would summon back the words as a kind of explanation and in anxious moments he would mis--hear the words as There are places in the world where people can vanish.

Still later, when he had not seen his father in a long time, or what seemed to him a long time, months, or maybe just weeks, he would try to summon the words again, exactly as his father had uttered them, but by this time he'd become uncertain, anxious. Where people can vanish, or where people vanish?

It was such a crucial distinction!

"Remember your new name. Think before you answer. Not just, 'What's your name?' but any question. It helps to lick your lips. That will give you time not to make a mistake you can't unmake."

Yet not his name but his surname was the issue. For his surname had been so disgraced there had come to be a fascination in its forbidden sound. The elided consonants and vowels, the lift of its finalsyllable, an expression of (possibly mocking) surprise like an arched eyebrow. In private, in his secret places, he spoke the forbidden name aloud in mimicry of newscasters who gave to it an air of intrigue and reproach. Sometimes in his bed at night in his new room in his grandparents' house he pressed his face deeply into the pillow and spoke the forbidden name, each syllable equally and defiantly stressed -- Szaa ra. He spoke the name until his breath ran out and his lungs ached and through his body raced a half--pleasurable panic that he would smother.

A pillow. Where his mouth was, wet with saliva. Where his teeth gnawed. A pillow is a comforting thing when your head rests on it, but if a pillow is pressed against your face, if you are lying on your back and a pillow is pressed against your face, you could not summon the strength to push it away and save yourself.

"YES. We've moved out of state."

Before even the impeachment hearings his mother had filed for divorce from their father. But before even she'd filed for divorce she'd moved them -- Emily, Philip, herself -- into her parents' big stone house overlooking the Hudson River at Nyack, New York.

Now it was a drive of several hours to the old house in Trenton, overlooking the Delaware River. On the map, it was really not very far but there was an air of distance and finality in his mother's frequently repeated words: "Out of state."

Out of state caught in Philip's mind, uttered in his mother's breathless yet adamant voice. As you might say out of space, out of time.

Out of danger, out of harm.

Out of toxic contagion.

In this new state it was essential to have a new name. To replace and nullify the old, disgraced name. Quickly! -- before Emily and Philip were enrolled in their new schools.

"Yes, we think it's best. Separate schools."

Private day schools. Nyack Academy for Emily, who was fifteen and in her second year of high school, Edgerstoune School for Philip, who would be thirteen in August, and would enter eighth grade. In New Jersey both children had gone to the Pennington Academy, in a northern Trenton suburb. Sometimes their mother drove them to school, sometimes one of their father's assistants. There was a private bus provided by the school, of the identical bright--pumpkin hue of public school buses but only one--third the size. Riding on this bus, they'd never sat together and acknowledged each other only politely, with diffident smiles.

For a few weeks during the impeachment hearings they'd continued to attend the Pennington Academy, but when criminal charges were brought against their father and the impeachment hearings ceased, their mother had removed them from school.

"It has to be done. They can't be made to suffer for him. They are only children."

In Nyack, it soon became official: they had a new name.

Where Szaara had been, now there was Hudgkins.

Where Philip Szaara had been, now there was Philip Hudgkins.

Where Emily Szaara had been, now there was Emily Hudgkins.

For this wasn't a "new" new name, of course. It was their Nyack grandparents' name which they'd long known and with which they had, their mother insisted, only happy associations. Their mother would take up again her old, "maiden" name with relief. During the sixteen years of her marriage to the New Jersey politician Roy Szaara she had retained Hudgkins as her middle name, she'd continued to be known by certain of her women friends, with whom she'd gone to Bryn Mawr, as Miriam Hudgkins. And so: "It isn't a great change. It's more like coming back home." She smiled bravely. She smiled defiantly. She had had her hair cut and restyled and she had a new way of clasping, at waist level, her shaky left hand in her more forceful right hand, as a practiced tennis player might clasp a racket.

"I mean, it is coming home. Where we belong."

" 'SPIDER BOY.' "

You might have thought that "Spider Boy" was in playful reference to the comic strip/movie superhero "-Spider--man" but in fact Philip had no interest in Spider--man as he had no interest in the comics, action films and video games that so captivated other boys.

" 'Spider Boy.' "

It was a way of evoking the haunting and powerful presence that existed now entirely in memory. Except for a single memento (smelly, ugly, of a clumsy size and in no way to be mistaken for something of Philip's own) kept in a secret place in his room, Philip might begin to consider whether Spider Boy had ever existed. For he understood He has vanished without having needed to be told.

Continues...


Excerpted from High Lonesome by Joyce Oates Copyright ©2006 by Joyce Oates. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Spider boy 3
The fish factory 23
The cousins 39
Soft-core 62
The gathering squall 73
The lost brother 89
In hot May 121
High lonesome 136
*Bd*11 1 87 154
Fat man my love 173
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear 188
Upon the sweeping flood 195
At the seminary 213
In the region of ice 231
Where are you going, where have you been? 249
How I contemplated the world from the Detroit house of corrections, and began my life over again 267
Four summers 284
Small avalanches 307
Concerning the case of Bobbie T. 320
The tryst 339
The lady with the pet dog 353
The dead 373
Last days 409
My Warszawa : 1980 431
Our wall 484
Raven's wing 494
Golden gloves 504
Manslaughter 519
Nairobi 533
Heat 543
The knife 557
The hair 573
The swimmers 589
Will you always love me? 608
Life after high school 629
Mark of Satan 646
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2014

    A gem

    High Lonesome
    “High Lonesome” is a comprehensive anthology of 36 stories from four decades of a legendary and gifted writer’s career. I chose this book because I thought it would be fun and interesting to read some of the works of an author whom both my husband and I had studied in college. The book didn’t disaappoint. Oates is an amazing and prolific writer, and I enjoyed 34 of the stories, a higher rate than one would expect, given the preferences and idiosyncracies of readers. If you enjoy short stories, this book is a gem.

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