Mudwoman: A Novel
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Mudwoman: A Novel

2.3 31
by Joyce Carol Oates
     
 

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One of the most acclaimed writers in the world today, the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates follows up her searing, New York Times bestselling memoir, A Widow’s Story, with an extraordinary new work of fiction. Mudwoman is a riveting psychological thriller, taut with dark suspense, that explores the high price of repression in the life of a

Overview

One of the most acclaimed writers in the world today, the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates follows up her searing, New York Times bestselling memoir, A Widow’s Story, with an extraordinary new work of fiction. Mudwoman is a riveting psychological thriller, taut with dark suspense, that explores the high price of repression in the life of a respected university president teetering on the precipice of a nervous breakdown. Like Daphne DuMaurier’s gothic masterwork, Rebecca, and the classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, Oates’s Mudwoman is a chilling page-turner that hinges on the power of the imagination and the blurry lines between the real and the invented—and it stands tall among the author’s most powerful and beloved works, including The Falls, The Gravedigger’s Daughter, and We Were the Mulvaneys.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"Extraordinarily intense, racking, and resonant... Masterfully enmeshing nightmare with reality, Oates has created a resolute, incisive, and galvanizing drama about our deep connection to place, the persistence of the past, and the battles of a resilient soul under siege… A major, controversy-ready novel from high-profile, protean Oates."
the Oprah Magazine O
“This chilling novel opens with a child left to die in a silty riverbed, a memory that no amount of later life success can erase.”
Ms. Magazine
"Joyce Carol Oates’ latest novel is about many things, but first and foremost it is about the complications of being a high-achieving woman in the 21st century…Oates tells [her protagonist’s story] with a detail and relish that’s both heartbreaking and fascinating."
O: the Oprah Magazine
“This chilling novel opens with a child left to die in a silty riverbed, a memory that no amount of later life success can erase.”
Wall Street Journal
“…The Oates style, with its fractious barrage of dashes, suggests what [Emily] Dickenson might have produced if she had written doorstop novels instead of short poems…[Oates] is especially perceptive in showing the political tightrope that M.R. has to walk in her powerful but fragile position at the university…”
USA Today
“Oates [displays] the insights into human bonds that make her brilliant....Oates makes [her character’s] torment come alive. We grasp her compulsion to return to the mud of the past in order find her true self.”
The New Yorker
“[A] powerful novel…[Oates] deftly interweaves M.R.’s present, memories of her troubled childhood, and her feverish hallucinations…This hypnotic novel suggests that forgetting the past may be the heavy cost that success demands.”
Financial Times
“Oates is an extremely visceral writer…Mudwoman is a genuinely unsettling book in which Oates pays her readers the compliment of never letting them settle or even being entirely sure about what they have just read.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Madness and malevolence squirm on almost every page in Joyce Carol Oates’ 38th novel… Oates’ dark brilliance is ever evident in her main characters, complex souls with mysterious corners in their psyches…”
New York Times Book Review
“There’s a freshness to this novel, a sense of some new, more personal beginning. It’s bold... to paint achievement... as just the flip side of victimization—and it’s perhaps even bolder to make such visceral drama from the story of a workaholic who finally confronts life unhooked from a keyboard.”
New York Post
“[A] disturbing, psychological thriller.”
New York Review of Books
“Mudwoman is very good at the performance of the public life of the woman president…The unraveling of this performance is grippingly horrible.”
Ms. magazine
“Joyce Carol Oates’ latest novel is about many things, but first and foremost it is about the complications of being a high-achieving woman in the 21st century…Oates tells [her protagonist’s story] with a detail and relish that’s both heartbreaking and fascinating.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Extraordinarily intense, racking, and resonant... Masterfully enmeshing nightmare with reality, Oates has created a resolute, incisive, and galvanizing drama about our deep connection to place, the persistence of the past, and the battles of a resilient soul under siege… A major, controversy-ready novel from high-profile, protean Oates.”
Huffington Post
“Uniquely personal… an intriguing departure from token Oates tales.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“[A] disturbing exploration of selfhood…As always, Joyce Carol Oates masterfully evokes a sense of menace, if not malevolence, while drawing her readers deep into the psychology of her characters… a dark, intelligent and deeply compelling novel... which will hold you in its thrall until the end.”
Maria Russo
Even as it travels over familiar Oates territory, there's a freshness to this novel, a sense of some new, more personal beginning. It's bold of Joyce Carol Oates to paint achievement akin to her own as just the flip side of victimization—and it's perhaps even bolder to make such visceral drama from the story of a workaholic who finally confronts life unhooked from a keyboard.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Oates begins her 38th novel with a nod to Nietzsche (“What is man? A ball of snakes”) that lies at the mud-caked heart of this tale of the rise and stumbling fall of M.R. Neukirchen, a brilliant academic whose childhood starts in the mudflats of the Black Snake River, where she is abandoned in 1965. But by 2002, M.R. has reached the top of the ivory tower. After a full ride to Cornell, and a Ph.D. from Harvard, she is now, at 41, the first female president of another Ivy institution. M.R.’s ambitious plans include upending the patriarchy and increasing diversity on campus, but both prove difficult in the post-9/11 “era of ‘Patriotism’” as the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq. M.R.’s identity, idealism, and sanity are all threatened as she wades through obstacles, including sabotaging right-wing colleagues and students. Though she has never considered herself the victim of sexism, M.R. must confront her gender when it becomes the lens through which her leadership is judged. Likewise, the philosophical question she has dedicated her career to answering—what is the self?—must be turned inward. Oates’s prose, dominated by run-on sentences to imitate fury or swiftness and a colloquial voice lacking nuance, is uninspired, but fans will relish the depth of this inquiry. (Mar.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062095633
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/05/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
465
Sales rank:
1,281,288
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.82(h) x 1.16(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. 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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Princeton, New Jersey
Date of Birth:
June 16, 1938
Place of Birth:
Lockport, New York
Education:
B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961

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Mudwoman 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Gram948 More than 1 year ago
What a strange story. The line between reality and delusion is sometimes very tenuous. Typical JCO plotting and characterizations. I really wanted to love this book as I have so many others of hers. And I did, except I really hated some of it. This is not one of those "you have to read this" books, but I am really glad that I stuck w/it. Not for every reader, except maybe real fans. (keep a dictionary handy)!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow read. Not as good as other Joyce Carol Oats books.
michMI More than 1 year ago
Couldn't finish this book. Subject too sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave up after trying to follow this for a while Very hard to stay with the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read half way through this book hoping it would get better but it only got even more unintetesting. Dont waste your time reading this book...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No rating......I really wanted to like this book. It is really boring....dull, with characters you cannot be drawn to even want to like...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't believe all of the negative reviews.  Amazing story.  The first part was really sad and I almost had to stop reading because it was close triggering an anxiety attack.  That being said, I'm glad I stuck with it.  If you prefer standard plot arcs and like your stories tied up with an unrealistic but satisfying bow, than Oates is not the author for you.  These characters are deep, multi-layered, and real in a way we seldom see in writing.  It's refreshing.  I think a lot of people have come to expect certain archetypes that have been shoved down our throats our whole lives and so don't know what to make of them.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very hard to finish. What started as interesting just got more confusing and boring. The ending was horrible. It's like the author forgot to write the last few chapters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not really worth it
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
worst book I ever read - ugh
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read as far as page 213 and quit to find something more intelligent. What a waste of money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admire and appreciate that she shared her opinion of the heinous Bush era wars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago