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Where Is Here?

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In dramatic, tightly focused narratives charges with tension, menace, and the shock of the unexpected, Where Is Here? examines a world in which ordinary life is electrified by the potential for sudden change. Domestic violence, fear and abandonment and betrayal, and the obsession with loss shadow the characters that inhabit these startling, intriguing stories. With the precision and intensity that are the hallmarks of her remarkable talent, Joyce Carol Oates explores the unexpected turns of events that leave ...

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Overview

In dramatic, tightly focused narratives charges with tension, menace, and the shock of the unexpected, Where Is Here? examines a world in which ordinary life is electrified by the potential for sudden change. Domestic violence, fear and abandonment and betrayal, and the obsession with loss shadow the characters that inhabit these startling, intriguing stories. With the precision and intensity that are the hallmarks of her remarkable talent, Joyce Carol Oates explores the unexpected turns of events that leave people vulnerable and struggling to puzzle out the consequences of their abrupt reversals of fortune.

As in the title story, in which a married couple find their controlled life irrevocably altered by a stranger's visit, the fiction in this new collection is punctuated again and again by mysterious, perhaps unanswerable, questions: "Out of what does our life arise? Out of what does our consciousness arise? Why are we here? Where is here?" Like the questions they pose, these tales — at once elusive and direct — unfold with the enigmatic twists of riddles and, often, the blunt shock of tragedy. Where is Here? is the work of a master practitioner of the short story.

A startling new collection of 34 stories that maps the crossed paths and vortexes of often unconnected lives as they intersect by chance, curiosity, or forceful intrusion. National Book Award-winner Oates has published over 20 novels as well as many volumes of short fiction, poetry, essays, and plays.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 35 stories in this exciting collection dramatize electrifying encounters and characters seized by heightened emotions, revealing them with inventiveness and boundless stylistic variety. Many of the stories are little more than brief vignettes, yet each illuminates its protagonist's state of mind like a flash of lightning. Demented voices in monologue animate the succinct ``Lethal,'' where a sexual terrorist begins, ``I just want to touch you a little''; and ``Area Man Found Crucified,'' in which a wounded war veteran, now a vagrant, pleads for death. ``Beauty Salon'' maps the painful, delicate meeting of a convalescing man and the beautiful woman who barbers him. Women are fatal victims of male violence in ``Turquoise'' and ``Murder.'' In ``Bare Legs,'' a willful prostitute hunts for her children and sleeps with truckers; in ``The Date,'' a woman changes clothes in a public lavatory, ``panting like a dog'' as she prepares to couple with yet another man. The tireless Oates ( Black Water ) seems determined to test her technical skills: several tales read like polished exercises. ``Running'' is chiefly a single sentence (over six pages) that mimes the headlong tempo of a runner as she pumps and ponders. ``Forgive Me'' and ``Letter, Lover'' stretch the epistolary mode: in the one, a woman inscribes the same letter to two former lovers, unable to keep them apart in her mind, in the other, obscenely sinister missives open the door to a new relationship. Oates is evidently willing to go anywhere her imagination leads her, and this collection adds several striking pieces to her already wide body of work about threatening situations. (Sept.)
Alice Joyce
Masterfully, and with few words, Oates positions the reader in highly uncomfortable locales of her composing. The reader can expect to encounter current occupants who live in states of extreme trepidation, or barring that, angry, alienated types to be avoided at all costs. This author, however, does not allow for a quick exit. Instead, the striking economy of these short pieces results in a riveting, roller coaster ride, indicated in the staccato cadence of titles such as "Insomnia," "Murder," "Embrace," and "Lethal." Actually, these titles only hint at the assured grasp Oates exerts in the stories of her latest collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880012836
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 72
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.86 (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 Chicago Tribune 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 the national bestsellers 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.

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

Table of Contents

Lethal 1
Area Man Found Crucified 2
Imperial Presidency 7
Bare Legs 13
Turquoise 17
Biopsy 19
The Date 21
Angry 26
The Ice Pick 29
The Mother 39
Sweet! 42
Forgive Me! 57
Transfigured Night 60
Actress 69
The False Mirror 75
From the Life of... 77
The Heir 88
"Shot" 89
Letter, Lover 100
My Madman 105
Cuckold 107
The Escape 109
Murder 117
Insomnia 124
Love, Forever 135
Old Dog 139
The Artist 141
The Wig 148
The Maker of Parables 152
Embrace 154
Beauty Salon 156
Abandoned 168
Running 174
Pain 181
Where Is Here? 184
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