Joyce Carol Oates: Letters to a Biographer

Joyce Carol Oates: Letters to a Biographer

Joyce Carol Oates: Letters to a Biographer

Joyce Carol Oates: Letters to a Biographer

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Overview

This rich compilation of Joyce Carol Oates's letters across four decades displays her warmth and generosity, her droll and sometimes wicked sense of humor, her phenomenal energy, and most of all, her mastery of the lost art of letter writing.

"It's hard to think of another writer with as fecund and protean an imagination as the eighty-five-year-old Joyce Carol Oates, who is surely on any short list of America's greatest living writers." —New York Times Magazine

In this generous selection of Joyce Carol Oates’s letters to her biographer and friend Greg Johnson, readers will discover a never-before-seen dimension of her phenomenal talent. 

In 1975, when Johnson was a graduate student, he first wrote to Oates, already a world-famous author, and drew an appreciative, empathetic response. Soon the two began a fairly intense, largely epistolary friendship that would last until the present day. As time passed, letters became faxes, and faxes became emails, but the energy and vividness of Oates’s writing never abated. Her letters were often sprinkled with the names of well-known public figures, from John Updike and Toni Morrison to Steve Martin and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. There are also descriptions of far-flung travels she undertook with her first husband, the scholar and editor Raymond Smith, and with her second, the distinguished Princeton neuroscientist Charlie Gross. But much of Oates’s prose centered on the pleasures of her home life, including her pet cats and the wildlife outside her study window. 

Whereas her academic essays and book reviews are eloquent in a formal manner, in these letters she is wholly relaxed, even when she is serious in her concerns. Like Johnson, she was always engaged in work, whether a long novel or a brief essay, and the letters give a fascinating glimpse into Oates’s writing practice. 


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781636141169
Publisher: Akashic Books, Ltd.
Publication date: 03/05/2024
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 419,083
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

About The Author
JOYCE CAROL OATES is the author of many works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. She is the editor of New Jersey Noir, Prison Noir, A Darker Shade of Noir: New Stories of Body Horror by Women Writers, and Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers. Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award, PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Humanities Medal, and a World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

GREG JOHNSON has a PhD in English from Emory University and has published three novels and five collections of short stories, including Pagan Babies, I Am Dangerous, and Night Journey, in addition to five nonfiction works, among them Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction and Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Yale Review, and many other publications. Johnson has twice been named Georgia Author of the Year. He lives in Atlanta.

Hometown:

Princeton, New Jersey

Date of Birth:

June 16, 1938

Place of Birth:

Lockport, New York

Education:

B.A., Syracuse University, 1960; M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1961
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