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Meet the WritersImage of Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
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.

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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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About the Writer
*Joyce Carol Oates Home
* Biography
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Chronology
*By the North Gate (stories), 1963
*With Shuddering Fall, 1964
*Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories, 1966
*Garden of Earthly Delights, 1967
*Expensive People, 1968
*Anonymous Sins and Other Poems, 1969
*Them, 1969
*Wonderland, 1971
*The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms, 1971
*Ontological Proof Of My Existence (play), 1972
*Marriages and Infidelities (stories), 1972
*Angel Fire (poems), 1973
*The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D. H. Lawrence., 1973
*Do With Me What You Will, 1973
*Miracle Play (play), 1974
*The Goddess and Other Women (stories), 1974
*New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature, 1974
*The Hungry Ghosts (stories), 1974
*The Seduction and Other Stories, 1975
*Fabulous Beasts: Poems, 1975
*Crossing the Border: Fifteen Tales, 1976
*Childwold, 1976
*The Triumph of the Spider Monkey (novella), 1977
*Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money: Poems, 1978
*All the Good People I've Left Behind, 1978
*Cybele, 1979
*Bellefleur, 1980
*The Triumph of the Spider Monkey (play), 1981
*Contraries: Essays, 1981
*Angel of Light, 1981
*Sentimental Education: Stories, 1981
*Celestial Timepiece (poems), 1981
*Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems, 1982
*Bloodsmoor Romance, 1982
*Profane Art: Essays & Reviews, 1983
*Last Days: Stories, 1984
*Mysteries of Winterthurn, 1984
*Solstice, 1984
*Wild Nights (stories), 1985
*Raven's Wing: Stories, 1986
*Marya: A Life, 1986
*You Must Remember This, 1987
*On Boxing, 1987
*The Assignation, 1988
*Woman Writer: Occasions and Opportunities, 1988
*American Appetites, 1989
*The Time Traveler, 1989
*Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart, 1990
*Nemesis (pseudonym), 1990
*I Lock My Door Upon Myself, 1990
*I Stand Before You Naked (play), 1991
*Rise of Life on Earth, 1991
*Heat: And Other Stories, 1991
*Where Is Here?: Stories, 1992
*Black Water, 1992
*Snake Eyes (pseudonym), 1992
*Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, 1993
*The Perfectionist (play), 1993
*Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories, 1994
*Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque, 1994
*What I Lived For, 1994
*Will You Always Love Me?, 1995
*Zombie, 1995
*You Can't Catch Me (pseudonym), 1995
*First Love: A Gothic Tale, 1996
*We Were the Mulvaneys, 1996
*Tenderness: Poems, 1996
*Double Delight (pseudonym), 1997
*Man Crazy, 1997
*My Heart Laid Bare, 1998
*Come Meet Muffin!, 1998
*The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque, 1998
*Broke Heart Blues, 1999
*Where I've Been and Where I'm Going: Essays, Reviews, Prose, 1999
*Starr Bright Will Be with You Soon (pseudonym), 1999
*Blonde, 2000
*Faithless: Tales of Transgression, 2001
*Barrens, 2001
*Middle Age: A Romance, 2001
*Beasts, 2001
*Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, 2002
*Tattooed Girl, 2003
*I'll Take You There: A Novel, 2003
*The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art, 2003
*The Falls, 2004
*Missing Mom, 2005
*The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense, 2006
*High Lonesome: Stories 1966-2006, 2006
*After the Wreck, I Picked Myself up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away, 2006
*Black Girl/White Girl: A Novel, 2006
*Gravedigger's Daughter, 2007
*The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense, 2007
Photo by Marion Ettlinger