The Tattooed Girl

The Tattooed Girl

by Joyce Carol Oates
3.3 9

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Tattooed Girl 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loathesone characters that aren't even deep enough to dislike, a gloss of anti-semitism that is nowhere near the reality of vicious hate pervasive in the world today, and a final scene that should have taken place 200 pages earlier to spare all of us. It is almost an explanation of how fiction can effect change, almost a psychological thriller, almost a portrait of the clash of class and social structure. Every character is a victim, every character eventually falls. And I didn't care one bit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brace yourself for a wake-up call. Anti-Semitism is alive in this so-called time of enlightenment, and it is continuing to breed its own distinctive form of hate. Oates displays this horrible face of humanity in a hold-nothing-back way. Shocking, alarming, and, at times, downright repugnant, it still remains a must-read for anyone interested in the human condition. Oates is known for always pushing the envelope. She does not disappoint with The Tattooed Girl.
Camboron More than 1 year ago
On page 5, I was already shaking my head at how good this book was. Oates, while sometimes not reaching the same almost-feverish emotional reactions I get from reading her greatest books, never disappoints. And this is one of the wild and disturbed ones. Joshua, who is funny, fussy, nitpicky, another great example of a teacher/writer that seems to be prevalent in her books, decides, in the uncertainty of his changing health, to hire an assistant. Oates expertly displays how one can form opinions based on simply what one is told by someone they love and trust. Also, she is a master at perception. Alma and Joshua's opinions of each other are so different, and yet, when you see the other from the other's eyes, you believe and see how each comes to their own conclusion. If you want to pin down the "villain" of the piece, it is difficult, for everyone in the book has their redeeming and unpleasant qualities. And yet, with the amount of ignorance and hate, it is all balanced by a nuanced portrayal of the characters, with subtext, and back story supplying the logic and organic thoughts of each. However, the ultimate "villain" can never be who you will expect, when Oates writes a book, and with a book with something so caustic and hateful at the core, only someone as good as Oates can turn the tables so convincingly and emotionally, getting you instantly to change sides and realign who you root for. This book made me confront my own experiences with ignorance, whether my own, or ignorance directed at me. And in the case of Alma, or the girl I met at a greyhound station who harmlessly commented that she'd known she'd met her first Jewish man by the "Channukah(sic) on his head"; as violent or "innocuous" as ignorance can be, it has its many shades, and can still contribute to things like the events in this book. This is great, typical Oates.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
Joshua Siegl is a respected novelist and scholar. He made his reputation early with the publication of an acclaimed novel that wrote about the Holocaust, and which was based on his grandparents' experience with the death camps. Although Joshua is young, still in his 30's, he has found himself becoming more and more of a recluse. Fiercely independent, he has few outside relationships and lives alone. Alma Busch is quite different. A poorly educated woman from a poor family, Alma has made her way through life, often by depending on men. These men, who she always believes love her, end up treating her badly. She has been prostituted by them and forced to write bad checks or steal. In a stunning episode, she was imprisoned in a motel room by a gang of men, raped and then tattooed by them on her face, back and hands. She drifts from man to man and job to job, never finding human validation. Everything changes for both of these people when Joshua is diagnosed with a progressive nerve disease. He at first refuses to admit this is happening, but as the weeks go by and he starts to lose functioning of his body, he realises he will need to have some help. Still shunning from public disclosure of his condition, he meets Alma in a restaurant and impulsively offers her a job as a live-in assistant. Thus begins their strange relationship. Joshua sees Alma as a project of sorts, as he wants to help her gain Independence and education. He begins to depend more and more on her help. She helps him get around, organizes his scholarly papers, and takes over the organization of the house. Alma sees Joshua as different things. She doesn't understand his world, and is filled with contempt that he spends so much money on things that she could do for him. Slowly, she takes over these things like cleaning his clothes, cleaning the house, etc. She loves him at times, and is filled with hate for him at others. Unused to decent treatment from men, she has been conditioned to see this kind of treatment as weakness. Over time they develop an uneasy relationship that has each dependant on the other for their lives going forward. Joyce Carol Oates, who is a prolific writer, has created a chilling portrait in this book. It is unclear throughout where the reader's sympathies should lie, with Joshua or Alma. Is he saving her or condescending to her? Is she helping him, or making him dependant on him for a unsavory reason? The reader will be compelled to read to the end to discover what happens in this relationship, and who will emerge as the winner in the battle of wills. This book is recommended for all readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have loved and hated JCO books. This falls in the second category. I had to force myself to keep reading, ready to give up several times in the first 100+ pages and upon finishing realized I should have given up the fight to get through this book. I would recommend this if you have never been aware of anti-semitism but those having lived with our eyes open during our lifetime do not need this book to do that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. I have always adored JCO's books, but, this one, WOW, it gave me goosebumps. What a gifted storyteller, to be able to take the reader along the chaos of human life, to make you understand these people, their emotions and hardships...to LOVE them....to cry for them. This will always remain my favorite book of all time. It has the rare beauty that few books possess. The characters are flawless, the story is too. JCO has done it again....you will truley love this book. Read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every time I think the prodigous Ms. Oates has produced her ultimate masterpiece, she does it again. Tatooed Girl is riveting, disquieting, and numbing. In short, everything serious fiction should be.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my 2nd book by Oates...I was again disappointed. Maybe the problem is I have a hard time getting interested in the story. The inside flap of this book really excited me. I started reading and then had to convince myself to keep going. I didn't feel there was anything to look forward to. Was the 'tatooed girl' going to fall in love, get rid of her so called boyfriend, what? I kept waiting. Finally something did happen in the end...in the last few pages. I think this could of been shorter...get to the point already. I read all sorts of books and try and review them on bn. Keep in mind this is only my opinion and maybe this author is just not for me. I will probably keep trying her books...at least one more before I give up. Just don't expect anything spectacular.