Sourland: Stories

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore the power of violence, loss, and grief to shape the psyche as well as the soul—shows us an author working at the height of her powers.

With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of “ordinary” life, from a desperate man who dons a ...

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Sourland: Stories

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore the power of violence, loss, and grief to shape the psyche as well as the soul—shows us an author working at the height of her powers.

With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of “ordinary” life, from a desperate man who dons a jack-o'-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship to a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father; from a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation. Each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oates's trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic—the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life—and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this atmospheric 16-tale collection, National Book Award winner Oates once again draws audiences into her characters' frighteningly surreal yet ordinary lives. Actress/narrator Coleen Marlo (The Blind Spot) is equally adept at rendering both the male and the female voices, the foreign and regional accents. While the production quality of the audio is high overall, bookmarking is difficult with just three to four tracks per disc, and there is a lack of thought repetition between discs. Nonetheless, this is a well-read, enjoyable, and thought-provoking work sure to be in demand by Oates's fans and those into the surreal. ["A delicious boundary-crossing mix of literary artistry and genre-writing skill," read the review of the Ecco: HarperCollins hc, LJ 7/10.—Ed.]—Laurie Selwyn, formerly with Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX
Publishers Weekly
Oates's latest collection explores certain favorite Oatesian themes, primary among them violence, loss, and privilege. Three of the stories feature white, upper-class, educated widows whose sheltered married lives have left them unprepared for life alone. In "Pumpkin-Head" and "Sourland," the widows--Hadley in the first story, Sophie in the second--encounter a class of Oatesian male: predatory, needy lurkers just out of prosperity's reach. In the first story, our lurker is Anton Kruppe, a Central European immigrant and vague acquaintance of Hadley whose frustrations boil over in a disastrous way. In the second story, Sophie is contacted by Jeremiah, an old friend of her late husband, and eventually visits him in middle-of-nowhere northern Minnesota, where she discovers, too late, his true intentions. The third widow story, "Probate," concerns Adrienne Myer's surreal visit to the courthouse to register her late husband's will, but Oates has other plans for Adrienne, who is soon lost in a warped bureaucratic funhouse worthy of Kafka. Oates's fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It's a testament to Oates's talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look. (Sept.)
San Francisco Chronicle
“...Innovative, brilliant...there are sentences that leave a deeply sensuous pleasure in their wake...”
Los Angeles Times
“We think of Oates, like Poe, as a master of terror, but her real mastery is in almost never depicting a strong emotion in isolation...Oates makes for a caustic companion in Sourland - a fearless experimenter forcing the reader ahead of her at knifepoint.”
Chicago Tribune
“Making sense of life in a cataclysmic inner and outer landscape has been Joyce Carol Oates’ obsession for five decades. This evocative new collection shows just how much sense she can make of it now.”
Buffalo News
“Oates remains . . . a living master of the short story-far more virtuosic in manner than the ecstatic realist she is usually taken to be and far more at home in the form, too.”
New York Times
“A master class in the art of pure, suspenseful storytelling...Oates is a dangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one who takes risks almost obsessively with energy and relish… [a] dazzling collection.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307875976
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates

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, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. 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.

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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 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

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1 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a super anthology that focuses on the down side of relationships

    Sourland is a super anthology that focuses on the down side of relationships with the typical Joyce Carol Oates' themes of violence and loss leading to psychological traumas. This makes for a strong insightful collection with no losers. In "Pumpkin-Head", "Sourland," and "Probate" lonely susceptible widows having recently lost their protective mates and encounter an ugly new world order when males use them or the bureaucracy abuses them. In "Bonobo Momma", Ms. Oates turns upside down her usual lethal male when a rapacious former model is the nasty player. In haunting "Daddy Lost", mommy puts people to sleep at the medical clinic while daddy stays home after being downsized to watch over frightened little Tod. In "Honor Code", she knows her life is before and after cousin Sonny or more descriptive before and after manslaughter. Though printed in a variety of magazines in similar form, with these sixteen short stories, Ms. Oates provides a profound look at the dark side of relationships with beasts feasting and "Beating" on the vulnerable.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

    Absolutely awful.

    These stories all seem like opening a book and reading a few pages. The words are there, there are some feelings conveys.. briefly? With no substance or anything else behind it.

    It was really terrible .I forced myself through it in hopes the stroies would tell any sort of story.

    They don't. I was very dissapointed by this rating.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2014

    Suggest only this years revews kept on any book listed

    On special lists like this and others so we can also be spared dear harriet h though of course with a hh have no need to read the book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted December 16, 2011

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    Posted November 14, 2010

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    Posted December 20, 2011

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    Posted February 20, 2011

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    Posted July 8, 2011

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    Posted July 28, 2011

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    Posted December 4, 2010

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    Posted February 18, 2011

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