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Dear Husband: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Carol Oates
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

“Savage, poetic and ruthless...[Oates’s] touch has never been surer, her insights never more piercing....several of the [stories], astonishingly, are among the best things she’s ever done...we are witnessing the steady unfolding of one of the towering careers in American letters.” (Washington Post)

“Oates’s stories have a certain doomed poignancy . . . if there’s a moral here, it’s the anything-can-happen wisdom of what Oates calls ‘brutal and horrific’ fairy tales.” (New York Times Book Review)

“America simmers in the writings of Joyce Carol Oates, going through the motions of everyday life as best it can, but prone to boiling over at any moment. Oates... has once again held a haunting mirror up to America, revealing who we are.” (Boston Globe)

“Oates explores incest, death by fitness center, accidental death; it’s not light reading, but twined into these human tragedies are bits and pieces found in all our lives.” (Philadelphia City Paper)

“Although nearly all 14 stories have been published elsewhere, they merit a book of their own. Admirers of Oates’ literary fiction will find this collection a transcendent read. Dear Husband is likely to win Oates new fans as well. Oates’ characters are masterfully rendered.” (Associated Press)

“The family ties that bind (and choke) are the overarching theme of Oates’s grim but incisive collection…Oates seamlessly enters the minds of disparate characters to find both the exalted and depraved aspects of real American families.” (Publishers Weekly (Lead fiction review))

“Admirers of Oates’ literary fiction will find this collection a transcendent read. “Dear Husband” is likely to win Oates new fans as well. Oates’ characters are masterfully rendered, but she is particularly gifted at creating a certain type: The appallingly egocentric, sometimes to the point of unwitting hostility.” (Boston Herald)

Product Description

“[Oates] has once again held a haunting mirror up to America, revealing who we are.”

Boston Globe

 

The inimitable Joyce Carol Oates returns with Dear Husband—a gripping and moving story collection that powerfully re-imagines the meaning of family in America, often through violent means. Oates, a former recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction—as well as the National Book Award, Prix Femina, and numerous other literary honors—dazzles and disturbs with an outstanding compilation the Washington Post calls, “Savage, poetic and ruthless...among the best things she’s ever done.” Dear Husband is another triumph for the author of The Gravedigger’s Daughter, We Were the Mulvaneys, and Blonde.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 495 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 1 Reprint edition (6 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0020Q3FTU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #571,365 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including 'We Were the Mulvaneys', which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and 'Blonde', which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence 9 July 2014
By Susan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
sublime storyteller.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Normal Miscreants and Other Monsters 6 Feb. 2014
By J. Ang
Format:Kindle Edition
Oates, an incredibly prolific writer, can be relied on to craft haunting and macabre short stories that leave the reader shaken and shell-shocked. Her longer fiction is, however, more chequered and inconsistent in my opinion, and one takes a risk when ploughing into one of her novels. Perhaps it is too claustrophobic to be trapped inside her dark gothic world for prolonged periods, and the narrative sags.

There is fortunately no such failing in this collection. In each of the stories in Dear Husband, which are slotted into two parts, miscreant characters dot the storyscape; from the deceptively stately middle-aged librarian, whose obsession with a defendant interferes with her juror duties in “Mistrial”, to the young upright lawyer in the opener “Panic”, who grapples with feelings of inadequacy, doubt and betrayal, in the aftermath of what he had mistaken as a threatening gesture from the boys in the school bus in front of his family car and his wife’s reaction to it.

Oates’s brand of urban horror works because of the seemingly innocuous settings, which are almost invariably suburban, and the relatively ‘safe’ backgrounds of the characters, with arguably strong (or suffocating) familial ties. Many of these stories deal with family relationships and explore the crises that arise, often from little kinks in an otherwise wholesome exterior. In “Special”, a young girl scarred in a domestic accident, struggles to heal and move on, even as she confronts the ambivalence of her family, and the unspoken tussle with her intellectually-challenged sister.

Elsewhere, Oates uses the epistolary form to track the unravelling of a Vietnam veteran as he bombards the (fictional?
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'brutal and horrific fairy tales' 22 May 2012
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
My first introduction to Ms' Oates work; wasn't much struck on the first story but by number 4 realised this is absolutely brilliant writing and couldn't put it down.
These are very dark tales (the title story is an imagined letter from a true-life Texas woman who drowned her children). The two that particularly stand out for me are the atmospheric 'Magda Maria', narrated by a druggie male, about his life and his eponymous muse- later a heroin addict.
Also the traumatic 'Landfill' which will wrench the heart of any parent of a teenage kid.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars focus on family relationships 31 Mar. 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These fourteen short stories focus on family relationships that appear initially normal, but turn grim when a crisis occurs. Each tale is well written and insightful; with some shocking. For example "Dear Husband" is a letter from infanticide mom Andrea Yates explaining to her spouse she did God's work when she drowned their children. "Vigilante" focuses on a drug abuser son trying to kick the habit while helping his mom avenge his father. Though some aspects of the theme has been used often by Ms. Oates, all the entries are "Special" whether it stars an autistic child devastating the lives of her caretaker parents and her ignored younger sister or a juror attracted to a charismatic defendant in "Mistrial". Women forced to make difficult decisions that fail to go as planned in "Cutty Sark," and "Landfill," or meeting the boyfriend's family in "The Glazers,", are part of "Dear Joyce Carol Oates" entreating look at the dark side of the American family.

Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extremely Satisfying Read 3 Jun. 2009
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is truly thrilling for a short story lover to be aware of Joyce Carol Oates and her ability to write the perfect short story. Contained in this amazing collection is 14 of them. Most importantly, she propels the reader into a blissful state, lost completely in the characters, dialogue and world of her storylines. Many of these tales possess themes of leaving a family or family member.

The first story, "Panic," is both frightening and heart-rending. It starts with the simplest of opening lines: "He knows this fact: It was a school bus." You will be hooked by the end of the first paragraph and will find yourself reading faster and faster, devouring each sentence quickly while not missing a single word.

The most fascinating story is "A Princeton Idyll," which ironically was published originally in The Yale Review. Through letters to her grandparents' maid, a now-43-year-old woman attempts to discover truths about her grandfather and his association with great minds of our time, such as Albert Einstein. You will not be able to help but reminisce about aspects of your life and memories of pleasant times spent with your grandparents. However, there is an underlying, ominous theme here that gets under your skin. Oates's incredible ability to tantalize readers with foreshadowing is legend. Hidden agendas, tidbits of juicy gossip and hurt feelings pervade these letters as well.

Although some of these entries are painful, deliberate and caustic, we are treated to the rare humorous story, like "Dear Joyce Carol." I won't give away the character description, but I will "leak" the scenario. Oates visits Boise, Idaho, on a book tour recently. A man who is unable to attend her talk writes to her through her publisher. All he wants is for her to autograph the picture that he cut out of the newspaper. He assumes that she will want to get to know him and his amazing life story, resulting in a novel --- and then a screenplay --- about his life. "We are Strangers across a thousand miles, and more, & how anxious I am, to hear from you."... "Hoping to hear from you very soon, your Special Friend." We learn more about him in each letter, as he becomes more anxious about receiving a response and that coveted autograph. This darkly humorous story is reminiscent of the writings of Stephen King.

The reader sees, somewhat quickly, that although someone might still be with another family member, they indeed have left them, or have been absent spiritually or emotionally. It can be a husband and wife, a mother and son, a father and daughter, or a sibling. The reader searches for a link and finds it, but not easily in some cases. In each and every case, though, it is certainly worth the hunt. DEAR HUSBAND is an extremely satisfying read.

--- Reviewed by Marge Fletcher
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crises in Minature 3 May 2009
By K. L. Cotugno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Joyce Carol Oates is the rare author who is as successful with short stories as she is with lengthy novels. All of these beautifully crafted explorations of families in crisis could easily be expanded into the longer form, but there is a finality to each that isn't usually found in short stories. Since they address specific moments of distress, there is a natural climax and ending in each. Which leads to the fact that they are better read individually, the time broken up with lighter material, since Oates in her traditional manner gravites toward the dark side of human experience.
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncanny 16 Sept. 2010
By Damon G. Labarbera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This author has an uncanny ability to render with authenticity and verve the internal dialogue, the motives, and patterns of behavior of a wide range of individuals. The stories, rather dark admittedly and associated with the netherworld of modern family life, had a feel of actuality, as if whatever what was the imaginative component of the stories could play against a backdrop of reality. The veracity of the stories, of the people motives, of the themes that contemporary humans play out day to day, seemed remarkable. These are events that seem to occur frequently, though in the confusing buzz of daily life one does not see them so neatly described or progressing to their obvious conclusion. The prose is also very good and the stories went quickly. Some seem at first a bit sensational, but yet there is no internal voice, at least in this reader, saying "people don't really act this way," or no voice saying, "this doesn't happen this way." I am not sure how one person, this author, registers and stores such a bestiary of different human types in her mind, or manages to recreate them or their voices so accurately but the effect was entertaining, and this book is the most engaging contemporary fiction I have read for a while.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars as usual...drum roll, please... 8 Jun. 2009
By hawthorne wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
My husband says there is "another woman" in our household: JCO. We are always discussing her latest oeuvre...and the author (fondly) whom we consider a member of the family at this point. As a writer and avid reader I have decided that I need only read JCO for my daily literary all-in-one requirement. Yesterday, for example, I took the short story "Mistrial" three times: with breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had read all the stories through, but "Mistrial" is my absolute fave. I ADORE stories about librarians with a jones for psychopaths, especially when the librarians are borderline crazy themselves. What was especially cute about this story was that I had the feeling that JCO was describing a sort of crazy side of herself. That's what I mean about us "living" with JCO. Though each novel and story is unique and about some of the strangest people on the literary planet, we feel that, through her writing, we have gotten to know JCO intimately. Don't try to dodge the autobiographical question, dear author. We know it's you in there. Love, US.
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