Marya: A Life

Marya: A Life

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by Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

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A deeply intimate psychological portrait of a young woman's tragic childhood, her reinvention as a successful young artist in the literary circles of 1950s New York City, and her struggle to understand and overcome the trauma of her past.

Growing up in the confines of Innisfail, a bleak town in upstate New York, bright and curious Marya endures abandonment,

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Overview

A deeply intimate psychological portrait of a young woman's tragic childhood, her reinvention as a successful young artist in the literary circles of 1950s New York City, and her struggle to understand and overcome the trauma of her past.

Growing up in the confines of Innisfail, a bleak town in upstate New York, bright and curious Marya endures abandonment, betrayal, and loneliness. A college scholarship offers escape, taking her to New York City, where she makes a name for herself in academic and literary circles. But success cannot overcome the damage of her childhood, pain that haunts Marya’s personal, professional, and romantic relationships, and has left her unmoored.

Psychologically nuanced, rich in insight and emotional complexity, told with the unsettling power of Joyce Carol Oates’s gothic novels, Marya: A Life is an intense look into the psyche of a young woman and an illuminating exploration of how the past reverberates throughout our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Some formative scenes from the ``life'' of an American writer and scholar: At eight, Marya is deserted by her mother when her father is killed by union strike-breakers. Raised by an uncaring aunt and uncle, she is sexually abused by their son. A young priest, the first of Marya's spiritual mentors, dies. At a high school graduation party given partly to celebrate her winning a college scholarship, three classmates cut off most of her hair. Though she distinguishes herself academically at the university, Marya is betrayed by her only female friend and later suffers the death of her first lover, a professor some 30 years her senior. Her next lover, a married publisher who has introduced her to the literary life of New York, dies as well. It is as if Marya's life is fated to rise from the ashes of everyone she cares for. Yet another rebirth seems slated at book's end, when she receives a letter from her long-lost mother which may ``change'' her life. One doubts it. Regardless of the events described, Marya's character undergoes little revision. From the first, she is a dry-eyed, gritty observer of a world whose degradations are presumably more safely viewed from behind the walls of academe. This latest novel from Oates (Solstice is unrelievedly grim. Literary Guild featured alternate. February 24
Library Journal
Unlike Oates's recent gothic and Victorian excesses, Marya is a fairly straightforward narrative closer in style to some of the earlier novels, such as Them and A Garden of Earthly Delights , that established her reputation as a leading American novelist. Constructed on a more intimate scale than those books, it is a stark, well-drawn portrait of the title character told in ``scenes from the life'' style, from Marya's early days of poverty, her life as an abandoned child raised by an aunt and uncle, through hard-won college success and an academic career. Marya's development and her innermost fears and insecurities are revealed in a very personal, almost autobiographical manner. A major work by an important writer, this belongs in most libraries. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P . L . , Va.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062269218
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
636,347
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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