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Sourland: Stories [Hardcover]

Joyce Carol Oates
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.33
Price: 15.26 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Oct 2010

Oates is a fearless writer.”

Los Angeles Times

 

“Oates is a master of the dark tale—stories of the hunted and the hunter, of violence, trauma, and deep psychic wounds.”

Booklist (starred review)

 

Sourland is a gripping, haunting, and intensely moving collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, one of America’s preeminent authors. Unforgettable tales that re-imagine the meaning of loss—often through violent means—Sourland is yet another extraordinary read from the literary icon who has previously brought us The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Blonde, We Were the Mulvaneys, and numerous other classic works of contemporary fiction.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: ECCO Press (1 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061996521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061996528
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

Review

“Making sense of life in a cataclysmic inner and outer landscape has been Joyce Carol Oates’ obsession for five decades. This evocative new collection shows just how much sense she can make of it now.” (Chicago Tribune)

“...Innovative, brilliant...there are sentences that leave a deeply sensuous pleasure in their wake...” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Oates’s fiction has the curious, morbid draw of a flaming car wreck. It’s a testament to Oates’s talent that she can nearly always force the reader to look.” (Publishers Weekly)

“...Vivid...the work reflects a delicious boundary-crossing mix of literary artistry and genre-writing skill...This famously prolific writer continues to surprise us, and that in itself is something to celebrate.” (Library Journal)

“A master class in the art of pure, suspenseful storytelling...Oates is a dangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one who takes risks almost obsessively with energy and relish… [a] dazzling collection.” (New York Times)

“Oates is just a fearless writer. . . with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Oates remains . . . a living master of the short story-far more virtuosic in manner than the ecstatic realist she is usually taken to be and far more at home in the form, too.” (Buffalo News)

“We think of Oates, like Poe, as a master of terror, but her real mastery is in almost never depicting a strong emotion in isolation...Oates makes for a caustic companion in Sourland - a fearless experimenter forcing the reader ahead of her at knifepoint.” (Los Angeles Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore the power of violence, loss, and grief to shape the psyche as well as the soul—shows us an author working at the height of her powers.

With lapidary precision and an unflinching eye, Oates maps the surprising contours of “ordinary” life, from a desperate man who dons a jack-o'-lantern head as a prelude to a most curious sort of courtship to a beguiling young woman librarian whose amputee state attracts a married man and father; from a girl hopelessly in love with her renegade, incarcerated cousin to the concluding title story of an unexpectedly redemptive love rooted in radical aloneness and isolation. Each story in Sourland resonates beautifully with Oates's trademark fascination for the unpredictable amid the prosaic—the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life—and shines with her predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First class collection 1 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fine balance between the normal and the nightmarishly horrible. Only 2 or 3 stories are a bit less convincing
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sourland 3 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates may not be a block buster author (thank goodness) but she really is a unique talent. Her vivid descriptions of weather systems are the nearest thing yet to a Turner sunrise!
The edgy short stories in Sourland are as usual populated with odd lone wolf type characters and often end in a such a way as to have one thinking for days about what the ending truly meant. Thank goodness she is such a prolific writer and there is still so much more of her work yet to read.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oates is amazing at capturing the interior emotional lives of people in extreme, violent or frightening situations. 22 Nov 2010
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The world Joyce Carol Oates creates in SOURLAND is dark, tense, wintry and hostile. With characteristic style, both lyrical and menacing, her latest collection of short stories draws readers in with mundane circumstances and asks them to experience the fear and desperation of the characters. It is an uncomfortable yet brilliant read.

Victimization, violence, loneliness and uncertainty plague the figures in these 16 stories. Several particular themes emerge: the vulnerability of widows, children at the mercy of unstable adults, and emotional instability. The scenes are at once commonplace and bizarre, and Oates is amazing at capturing the interior emotional lives of people in extreme, violent or frightening situations.

Four stories deal with women who are grieving the deaths of their husbands. In "Pumpkin-Head," Hadley is courted by an awkward young man who offers to help her around the house. But when he shows up with a jack-o'-lantern covering his face and grows increasingly agitated, Hadley realizes his intentions are not benevolent after all. In "Probate," the very recently widowed Adrienne finds herself in a Kafka-esqe courthouse where she is interrogated, strip-searched and detained after her husband's will is found to contain photographs of mutilated bodies. In the titular "Sourland," a widow named Sophie boldly reunites with a college acquaintance in the middle of the Minnesota wilderness only to find him disfigured, angry and violent. Sophie thinks "the surviving spouse" inhabits a space not much larger than a grave." That sense of confinement, isolation, dread and mortality permeates all the stories here. "Death Certificate" shows a different side of widowhood as Yvonne is predatory and brash.

It is not only women who have to face difficult, or even surreal, situations in SOURLAND. "Bonobo Momma" is a look at a strange mother-and-daughter relationship. Adelina is a former fashion model who still uses her striking looks and high-fashion lifestyle to define herself. Her 13-year-old daughter has recently undergone surgery to correct a congenital malformation of the spine. After not seeing each other in nearly two years, the pair spend a strained afternoon together. "Lost Daddy" follows a four-year-old boy and his distressed, out-of-work father on a nightmarish walk through the park. "The Story of a Stabbing," "The Beating," "The Barter," "Bounty Hunter" and "Honor Code" all have child protagonists or are the recollections of adults on defining childhood incidents.

From the affair of a beautiful double-amputee and a married father of two, to the rantings of a young man paranoid that his organs will be harvested without his consent, SOURLAND examines the dangers and heartbreak of loss and the potential for volatility it can create. In a free-wheeling linguistic style married to a taut and compelling tone, the book is the proverbial car wreck you can't help but stare at, straining for a glimpse of grisly reality and gore. The violence and pain here is visceral and the literary achievement high. SOURLAND is a grim and powerful reminder of the fragility of human life and relationships.

--- Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars down side of relationships 19 Sep 2010
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sourland is a super anthology that focuses on the down side of relationships with the typical Joyce Carol Oates' themes of violence and loss leading to psychological traumas. This makes for a strong insightful collection with no losers. In "Pumpkin-Head", "Sourland," and "Probate" lonely susceptible widows having recently lost their protective mates and encounter an ugly new world order when males use them or the bureaucracy abuses them. In "Bonobo Momma", Ms. Oates turns upside down her usual lethal male when a rapacious former model is the nasty player. In haunting "Daddy Lost", mommy puts people to sleep at the medical clinic while daddy stays home after being downsized to watch over frightened little Tod. In "Honor Code", she knows her life is before and after cousin Sonny or more descriptive before and after manslaughter. Though printed in a variety of magazines in similar form, with these sixteen short stories, Ms. Oates provides a profound look at the dark side of relationships with beasts feasting and "Beating" on the vulnerable.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Transparent to Opaque 24 April 2011
By Clarice - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have always admired Oates as a short-story writer and as a novelist. In many ways I think she's better in short stories, as their length doesn't allow her the indulgence in which she engages in many of her novels. (I have heard a rumor that she doesn't allow herself to be edited in any way. I wonder if this is true.)

The problem with short story collections is often that they seem sort of thrown together with no real thread to make them work as a whole. The theme of SOURLAND might be the soured relationships between people, misunderstanding as a result of unspoken or conflicting expectations. A few of the stories are quite frankly opaque. "The Story of the Stabbing," "Uranus," and "Donor Organs" are all set pieces that don't seem to have a lot to say. "The Death Certificate," about a chance encounter between two former extramarital lovers, was an insightful piece about the differences in what makes men tick vs. what makes women tick. "Amputee" is a very odd/strange/Gothic story about an amputee and her sexual power, almost as if having a limb removed has given her a level of power that fully limbed person could not have. Interesting, provocative, a little disturbing.

For me, though, the most touching and telling story is "The Barter," about a boy whose father is sick and dying, and who is looking for friendship and support - and what happens to him. It's quite a powerful story, and I have to wonder how Oates knows the adolescent male psyche so well.

I don't think this is Oates' most accessible short story collection, so it's probably best for those who can get carried away by her writing and her unmistakable voice, even when you just want to shake her characters and tell them to "snap out of it" - because many, many central characters are amazingly self-centered. I am giving the book 4 stars if you're an Oates fan, but it's probably only a 3-star book if you're coming to Oates afresh. The woman is simply an incredible writer and she is never boring, a significant feat (I think) when so much of modern "serious" fiction is always horribly pretentious and dull. But I have found some of the more mysterious/Gothic collections, such as THE COLLECTOR OF HEARTS, much more fun to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great collection 21 Jan 2011
By Rodney Brazil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I had read a couple of these stories in other publications, and enjoyed how well they fit into the new collection. Very enjoyable, and more lighthearted in places than you might expect.
5.0 out of 5 stars Sourland 27 Mar 2014
By Joyce Carol Oates - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A terrific collection. .I could not put it down . YOU are in the stories as you read and each one leaves you truly involved with the characters .
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