Thursday, May 2, 2013

May is Short Story Month - Joyce Carol Oates

May is Short Story Month and today's author is Joyce Carol Oates. Ms. Oates is one of our most prolific authors: so far she has written more than fifty novels, as well as numerous volumes of short stories, plays, novellas, poetry and some nonfiction. The Academy of Achievement has called her "America's Foremost Woman of Letters." She won the National Book Award for her novel them, two O. Henry Awards, a National Humanities Medal and the PEN/Malamud Award for lifetime achievement, among many others. Ms. Oates taught in Beaumont, Texas for a year, and has been teaching in the creative writing program at Princeton University since 1978.

Many of her works have been adapted to the screen, both large and small, such as "We Were the Mulvaneys." See here for a complete filmography. You can also see a reading by, and an interview of, Ms. Oates on my YouTube channel.

Ms. Oates' work is usually in realism, although she has had great success with historical novels and family sagas. She also made an ambitious foray into horror and Gothic fiction, virtually reinventing the latter genre. She explores how ordinary people cope with extraordinary circumstances. Often a palpable undercurrent of violence threatens through her stories; sometimes it's not an undercurrent, but in your face.

I discovered Joyce Carol Oates through today's story and it made an indelible impression. While the threat isn't exactly overt, the menace is breathtaking. Today's story is "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" [First published in Epoch, Fall 1966, and anthologized in Prize Stories: O Henry Award Winners (1968), and The Best American Short Stories (1967)]

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