The Rise of Life on Earth

( 4 )

Overview

"Like most important writers—Joyce, Proust, Mann—she has an absolute identification with her material: the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history."—Walter Clemens, Newsweek
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the most notable books of 1991, Joyce Carol Oates's The Rise of Life on Earth is a memorable portrait of one of the "insulted and injured" of American society. Set in the underside of working-class Detroit of the '60s and '70s, this short, lyric novel sketches Kathleen ...
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Overview

"Like most important writers—Joyce, Proust, Mann—she has an absolute identification with her material: the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history."—Walter Clemens, Newsweek
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the most notable books of 1991, Joyce Carol Oates's The Rise of Life on Earth is a memorable portrait of one of the "insulted and injured" of American society. Set in the underside of working-class Detroit of the '60s and '70s, this short, lyric novel sketches Kathleen Hennessy's violent childhood—shattered by a broken home, child-beating, and murder—and follows her into her early adult years as a hospital health-care worker. Overworked, underpaid, and quietly overzealous, Kathleen falls in love with a young doctor, whose exploitation of her sets the course of the remainder of her life, in which her passivity masks a deep fury and secret resolve to take revenge.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
National Book Award winner Oates's ( Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart ) tightly-focused novella features a disturbed woman who enjoys the ambience of hospitals. (Sept.)
Walter Clemons
Like most popular writers -- Joyce, Proust, Mann -- she has an absolute identification with her material; the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history. -- Newsweek
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811212137
  • Publisher: WW Norton Client
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 142
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most important and well known writers—and one of America’s foremost writers of the short story form. She is also a regular contributor of reviews and criticism for the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. She also reads and lectures widely throughout the US, at universities and bookstores.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Just my opinion

    Deliciously entertaining and thought provoking, and definitely not for the faint of heart

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2001

    great novella

    oates writes a really good short novel about a girl whose life turns her into something both chilling and sympathetic. oates has a bit of an experimental style with her massive sentences and some odd structures late in the story. it's definitely not your regular book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2001

    Rise of Life on Earth

    I thought this book was very interesting, however, the end was a bit graphic. I suggest not reading it unless prepared for some squeemish scenes. The book overall however was thought prevoking and intrestingly captivating. You want to know more about the amin charachters life to see if things will change for her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2000

    Rise of Life on Earth

    I thought this was a very good book. It was a pretty easy to follow story line with a captivating plot. While I dont think that everyone would like this book, it deserves a good try.

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