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The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

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Overview

An incomparable master storyteller in all forms, in The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares Joyce Carol Oates spins six imaginative tales of suspense. “The Corn Maiden” is the gut-wrenching story of Marissa, a beautiful and sweet, but somewhat slow, eleven-year-old girl with hair the color of corn silk. Her single mother comes home one night to find her missing and panics, frantically knocking on the doors of her neighbors. She finally calls the police, who want to know why she left her young daughter alone until ...
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The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares

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Overview

An incomparable master storyteller in all forms, in The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares Joyce Carol Oates spins six imaginative tales of suspense. “The Corn Maiden” is the gut-wrenching story of Marissa, a beautiful and sweet, but somewhat slow, eleven-year-old girl with hair the color of corn silk. Her single mother comes home one night to find her missing and panics, frantically knocking on the doors of her neighbors. She finally calls the police, who want to know why she left her young daughter alone until 8:00 o’clock. Suspicion falls on a computer teacher at her school with no alibi for the time of the abduction. Obvious clues—perhaps too obvious—point directly to him. Unsuspected is Judah (born Judith), an older girl from the same school who has told two friends in her thrall of the Indian legend of the Corn Maiden, a girl sacrificed to ensure a good crop. The seemingly inevitable fate of Marissa becomes ever more terrifying as Judah relishes her power, leading to unbearable tension with a shocking conclusion.

“Helping Hands,” published here for the first time, begins with an apparently optimistic line: “He came into her life when it had seemed to her that her life was finished.” A lonely woman meets a man in the unlikely clutter of a dingy charity shop and extends friendliness, which soon turns to quiet and unacknowledged desire. With the mind-set of a victim, struggling to overcome her shyness and fears, she has no idea what kinds of doors she may be opening.

The powerful stories in this extraordinary collection further enhance Joyce Carol Oates’s standing as one of the world’s greatest writers of suspense.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This chilling audio edition of the latest collection offers up a selection of seven dark and psychologically thrilling tales.”
Publishers Weekly

“A fine account makes for a vivid set of tales recommended for any mystery audio collection.”
The Bookwatch

The Bookwatch
“Psychologically compelling and disturbing, this volume is a strong addition to Oates’s vast body of work.”
Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802155085
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/11/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 767,983
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of national best-sellers The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys. She has been nominated for six National Book Awards, winning for Them.

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 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Must Read! Will Scare You!

    Joyce Carol Oates hardly needs an introduction, so I've left that off in this review. It continues to amaze me that she is so prolific an author, so "current" and so singluar at the same time, while she is over 71 year old. Whether she's writing the somber story of her own widowhood, the story of a family in Niagra Falls during Love Canal days, or the story of a family torn apart by rape, Ms Oates is mesmerizing. She can also scare the life out of you! This collection of stories is well-named; they are your worst nightmares.

    Just in time for Halloween, but even more so, "The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares" is a book you can keep for those weekends when you have friends up: great food is digesting, you're drinking a
    last crystal goblet of wine and you just want a bit of quiet entertainment...a sort of send-off to bed...a reading, a story to remember. This quiet weekend would best be spent in up-state NY, in the Catskills, possibly in a lodge you've all leased for the weekend. Nice...friends, the Fall, wine, an old lodge and Joyce Carol Oates. Run for your bed and pull the covers over your head!!

    "The Corn Maiden," the title story of this collection is creepy. The girls perpetrating unspeakable rituals upon their "corn maiden" are creepy and vile. Jude, the primary perpetrator and leader of her little band of weirdos, is suburban-insane and twisted like few other early teens you'll ever meet. Besides all of this, and mingled with the strange ritualistic purpose for their kidnapping poor, defenseless Marissa of the corn-silk hair, are the frightening unknowns that Ms Oates serves up to us: how kids today live not knowing if they're going to survive tomorrow because of nuclear threats, not knowing if parents will be there for them, not knowing why they've been abandoned, not knowing if food is safe, not knowing if their teacher is a molester, and so on. It's a story about the horrors our children face in their nightmares. In the reading, you'll discover what else Marissa represents; that, too, is a horror, it's all disturbing. It's all good for us to think about.

    Others of the stories also confront the nightmares of disassociation, displacement and dysfunction in families, coupled with the distortions of nature and mind. We know that often the scariest tales are the ones closest to being true or plausible. Not to mention that often those stories happen in the rural places close to home. Joyce Carol Oates was born and raised in up-state NY...think of what Stephen King does for Maine.

    Do you believe a cat can take the breath away; smother a baby? Just because a child imagines she experienced abuse, does that make it true?

    All I can tell you is that this book is not for the faint of heart. Joyce Carol Oates is a seriously great author no matter what she chooses to write. You can count on this being an extraordinarily good book of nightmarish tales on many levels.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2012

    Pretty good, but bad editing.

    This was a fairly good read if you can look past the REALLY bad editing on the Nook version. Also most of the stories have the same basic plot, but different twists. By the end of the book I was kind of over it all. Joyce is a really imaginative writer but this collection really suffered from the editing problems.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Entertaining, but....

    I enjoyed the stories in this collection, but the typos and errors in my digital copy really made me want to stop reading. It really irks me when I spend as much as I would on an actual book and no one has taken the time to make sure the text is clean.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This was my first time reading anything by this author. I can h

    This was my first time reading anything by this author. I can honestly say I won't be purchasing anything from her in the future and was quite glad it was a library book. It was just interesting enough to keep reading but not enough to choose to do it again.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    A great read

    Stories aren't "scary", but they are creepy. Probably creepier because they are very realistic. Author seems to understand how the darker parts of the human brain can work and what they can lead to, very dark and very satisfying!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great stories..

    "The Corn Maiden" was the best tale in this collection. It was great watching everything unravel. The other stories were good, especially the one involving the thrift store. I highly recommend this, and I don't like short stories!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Creepy and Disturbing

    Joyce Carol Oates never disappoints...these stories are creepy and disturbing, but also very believable....

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

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Just didn't captivate me

    I got through the first story which I thought was not too bad. But it didn't scare me. A bit freaky, but nothing that left me shaking. As I started to read the next "nightmare" it was so unrealistic to me. I just could not get into it! I ended up just no finishing the novel after that, which is rare for me. I regret buying this book on my nook since I can't return it. Personally, I thought Afraid by Jack Kilborn was a better read. (however though, his book was more of a suspense)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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