Back in print, Joyce Carol Oates's widely acclaimed tale of doomed love.
San Francisco ChronicleBeautifully crafted...written much like a folk or fairy tale in its patient,eerie delivery,this novella delicately peers into the heart.
New York TimesLove and death and martyrdom in a turn-of-the-century small town....Possesses the power of legend.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyAs in her recent highly praised novel, Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart , Oates unfolds another tale of ill-starred love between a white woman and a black man. The narrator tells the story of her grandmother, Edith Freilicht, whose secret name was Calla (with its overtones of lily-whiteness). It was bestowed by her own mother, dead in childbirth, and recognized only by her black lover, muscular, charismatic Tyrell Thompson, whose mysterious trade as a dowser (one who finds water with a divining rod) brings him unbidden to her family's New York farm. Set around the turn of the century, this exquisitely crafted, dreamlike novella is the first in Ecco's planned series of fictions on art. In it the author imaginatively fashions her own meaning for Belgian symbolist Fernand Khnopff's painting of the same title (which serves as the cover illustration): the work depicts a striking young woman who leans on a window ledge and fixes pale bewitching eyes on the beholder; a flower stands in the foreground. Windows figure prominently throughout the narrative, as invitations to adventure, openings upon dangerous perspectives, frames for catastrophes. Images of water illuminate the lovers' fates. Oates powerfully creates a hallucinatory and harrowing atmosphere charged with sensuality and destruction. (Nov.)
Library JournalIn turn-of-the-century rural America, willful and elusive Calla, muzzled by an enforced marriage, church, and kin she no longer cares about, chooses a life of inertia and indifference until the arrival of roving black water dowser Tyrell Thompson. She finally sheds the self she has imposed, and her long-subsumed physical and spiritual selves emerge. Oates deftly brings alive character and landscape in prose that reads more like a georgic than like fiction. Color and language as spoken are used as metaphors of liberation. ``If this is a dream it is not my dream for how should I know what the language in which to dream it,'' says new, liberated Calla. This novella shares the same title as a Fernand Khnopff painting and is the first in a series of fictions inspired by art to come from this publisher. Essential to the Oates canon.-- Bibi S. Thompson, ``Library Journal''
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
I Lock My Door upon Myself based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
The skeleton of the story replicates Ethan Frome, but Ms. Oates telling of the story is not to be missed. The difference between them is the inclusion of racism, a theme that she has dealt with in other novels. I found it hard to identify with Calla in the first half of the book but the ties were bound tightly as the action progressed, in the same way that the river flows quietly until it nears the falls.