You Must Remember This

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates's epic novel of an American family in the 1950's probes the tender division between the permissible and the forbidden, between ordinary life and the secret places of the heart. Set in an industrial, working-class town in upstate New York, this book chronicles the frustrating marriage of parents Lyle and Hannah; the idealistic political journey of son Warren, and the passionate, obsessive relationship that develops between 15-year-old Enid Maria and her uncle Felix, a professional boxer twice her...

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Overview

Joyce Carol Oates's epic novel of an American family in the 1950's probes the tender division between the permissible and the forbidden, between ordinary life and the secret places of the heart. Set in an industrial, working-class town in upstate New York, this book chronicles the frustrating marriage of parents Lyle and Hannah; the idealistic political journey of son Warren, and the passionate, obsessive relationship that develops between 15-year-old Enid Maria and her uncle Felix, a professional boxer twice her age. While brilliantly re-creating a decade that worshipped conformity, You Must Remember This presents the lives of family members that break every convention in the search for meaning and fulfillment.

"An American masterpiece...Oates' sprawling novel in the definitive history of an era... ."--James Atlas, Vanity Fair

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prolific writer Oates demonstrates awesome talent in her new novel, a family saga, set against the backdrop of conservatism that marked America in the 1950s. Through the actions of Lyle Stevick and his family, Oates creates a vivid portrait of bewildered, inarticulate people pushed against the narrow boundaries of their era by their emotions. Lyle is a man of small failures and smaller successes, a dealer in used furniture whose marriage is a continual reminder of one moment's misspent passion. He regards his brother Felix, a boxer, with cynicism born of envy. Lyle loves his children, but clearly does not know them. He is blind to his daughter Enid's affair with the virile Felix. Oates is not easy on her characters. She moves them through McCarthyism, backyard fallout shelters and illegal abortions, slapping them with harsh reflections of their weaknesses. Fully developed, they are described in language that is both elegant and gritty. The scenes between Enid and Felix add a pulsing, sensate eroticism. Infused with narrative energy, this is one of Oates's strongest books in many seasons. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection. August 10
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452280199
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1998
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 559,467
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Carol Oates

In addition to many prize-winning and bestselling novels, including We Were the Mulvaneys, Black Water, and Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart (available in Plume editions), Joyce Carol Oates is the author of a number of works of gothic fiction including Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (Plume), a 1995 World Fantasy Award nominee; and Zombie (Plume), winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Horror Novel, awarded by the Horror Writers' Association. In 1994, Oates received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in Horror Fiction. She is the editor of American Gothic Tales and her latest novel is Broke Heart Blues (Dutton). She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Engrossing Story

    The book seemed to me to be typical Joyce Carol Oates. Her characters are so richly drawn that you feel they are neighbors. In this particular book, the characters are not likeable but I still cared about what happened to them. The different twists in plot that she takes and the suspense she builds kept me turning the pages eager to find out what the outcome would be but at the end I still felt there was more story to be told.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2008

    What a Disappointment!

    I found this book to be extremely boring. It starts off all right, but just seems to drag on and on without every getting anywhere. I would recommend reading The Falls instead. It is much better than this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2003

    Engrossing!

    A truly entertaining novel by Ms Oates! My first time reading one of her books and certainly not the last. The Stevicks are a very realistic family who will always keep you turning pages to find out what happens next. The relationship between Enid and her 'uncle' Felix is strange and enchanting, forbidden yet,secretly you want happiness for them. The political atmosphere reminds one of Tolstoy, strangly. A Must Read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2000

    *A wonderfully inventive and gripping novel*

    I have read many books by Joyce Carol Oates, but I love this one the most. It reads easily and truthfully, and I plan to read it again. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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