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Michael LindgrenThis is a powerful novel. Oates's feel for the rhythms of hardscrabble life and its sour mix of alcoholism, suicide, drug abuse, adultery and murder is as keen as ever. In Sparta she has created a fictional universe to stand beside Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County or Cheever's Shady Hill. Her descriptions of the geography of urban decay—the rusted bridges, tangled back alleys and trash-strewn lots—are as vivid as any naturalist's portrayal of more felicitous scenes. Her unsentimental language makes a high-lonesome kind of poetry out of otherwise sordid and unremarkable circumstance.
—The Washington Post