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I'll Take You There [Paperback]

Joyce Carol Oates
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Feb 2010

Joyce Carol Oates is one of the world’s most respected living novelists. ‘I’ll take You There’ is an intense, deeply moving story of how a young woman finds her place in the world.

‘In those days in the early 1960s we were not women yet but girls. This was, without irony perceived as our advantage.’

So begins ‘I’ll Take You There’, an astonishingly intimate and unsparing self-portrait of a young woman who comes of age in the most turbulent of American decades.

'Anellia' – as she sometimes calls herself – is a student at Syracuse University, the first time she has lived away from her family. Headstrong, passionate, occasionally obsessive, she is pitiless in exposing herself to her new life as she searches for a place in the world.

In her quest for belonging, 'Anellia' discovers the risks, and curious rewards, of confronting the world: being taken in, and then cruelly rejected by a 'sisterhood' of her fellow students, falling recklessly in love with an older graduate student who happens to be black, making a journey westward when summoned by a figure from her past who she believed to be dead. Through this triptych of events, the atoms of 'Anellia's' life comes together as she begins her journey into adulthood.

This spellbinding novel confirms Oates as one of America's most important writers. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our times. 'I'll Take You There' is a deeply moving, wry, intense examination of how a girl becomes a young woman.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; New Ed edition (26 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007146450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007146451
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 533,006 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


'Oates' precise and inspired writing is close to witchcraft.' Jeanne Moreau

'This intense character study becomes a testament to spiritual resilience. It is an excellent addition to Oates' formidable canon.' Daily Telegraph

'Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman.' The Herald

From the Back Cover

"Every single Oates novel I've read has added to my conviction that she is a genius."

"Oates is a massive literary heavyweight, and many earnestly believe she could knock the other contenders for the title of Great American Novelist – Updike, Roth, Wolfe, Mailer."

"Apart from her, only Don DeLillo, among today's American women novelists, would be able to handle such a huge cast of imagined and real characters."

"Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they're wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman."
'The Herald'

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely delicate. 17 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first J.C. Oates's book I read, and I think it's important to stress this fact, considering she's a very prolific writer. I wasn't expecting anything in particular, so I was even the more positively surprised by what I found.
The novel is a tripartite tale of a young girl growing up and leaving adolescence for adulthood, with all the problems that this involves. A young girl in search of an identity and of a place in the world, a world that doesn't seem to be fit for her and to accept her either (since her mother died when she was very little, everybody seems to consider her culpable for that). "I'll take you there" is a delicate novel of initiation, written in a very touching style. Read it, that's all I have to say. As far as I'm concerned, I'm already looking for other books by the same author!
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arriving Where She Needs To Be 14 Jan 2003
I'll Take You There is a story divided into three sections concerning crucial stages of a girl's development and narrated in the first person by the girl, Anellia, herself. This is the same structure Joyce Carol Oates uses in her 1986 novel Marya: A Life though the stories of the two novels differ in some crucial elements. The first section, The Penitent, is primarily concerned with Anellia's torturous time spent in a sorority called Kappa Gamma Pi and her relationship with the foreboding and ultimately tragic English headmistress Mrs. Agnes Thayer. Her entrance into the sorority sparked by a timid desire to gain acceptance from her peers, gradually reveals the shallow nature of the sisters and the vacuous symbols of their elite collective. The second section, The Negro Lover, explores Anellia's complex relationship with brilliant and troubled Vernor Matheius. Her obsession with the philosophy student blooms into a tumultuous relationship based on passion that is stirred by feelings of alienation. Each of them are fiercely intelligent and trapped by a societal definition based on the exterior that they cannot escape. But unlike Vernor, Anellia embraces this identity distinction, her Jewish heritage, in order to exile herself from the repugnant normality she has discovered. The third and slightest section, The Way Out, finds Anellia extracted from the developmental struggle of university and unexpectedly driven to a reunion with her estranged father. As he is slowly dying, she develops a relationship with his caregiver and fiancee Hildie. The feelings of opportunities lost and emotions wasted are gradually excavated over their time together as they come to terms with losing a man who will always remain an aloof mystery. Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reading! 1 Mar 2006
As one of Oates's thousands of fans, I enjoyed this book thoroughly.
Oates creates a wonderful portrait of a young woman, Anellia. She is a fascinating character.
Her coming of age made me remember the complexity of my own emotional development.
Oates's language perfectly captures the young girl's feelings, emotions, fears.
Anellia's problematic relationship with Vernor Matheius is developed in an absolutely unique way.
The writing style, the main character, the beautifully crafted plot make this a book I can't recommend highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Oates... 10 Oct 2013
By Maria
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would reccomend this book to anyone who likes Oates' writing style and who enjoy her kind of american literature :)
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2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment 27 July 2012
By Puskas
Oates is lauded as one of the great American contemporary novelists, but I struggle to see why on this showing. Her protagonist Anellia, whose real name I don't believe we ever learn, has grown up with latent guilt because her mother had died as the result of her birth, but despite being shown the tiny details of her falling in love, I found it impossible to engage with such a sterile, bland character.

Similarly, two central events of the novel (the breakdown and disgrace of her sorority housemistress, Mrs. Agnes Thayer, and 'Anellia's' her father's disappearance) must have been skimmed over so much (by the writer and, I fear, by me) that I failed to recognise them when they happened, and it was only because of flashback technique that I ever became aware that they had!

Anellia is a misfit, an automaton. At university she is keen to join a fmale sorority, despite having Jewish blood which eventually makes her membership untenable. Brilliantly clever, but peculiar in a way that detaches her from her peers, she struggles to fit in and gain acceptance with the poor little rich girls of Kappa Gamma Pi. Life there is an uncomfortable struggle, and in a sense this is the strongest part of the book, with Anellia's obvious unease and strangeness manifesting itself wholly in one lecture scene where she makes a total fool of herself.

The largest part of the book is entitled 'The Negro-Lover', a phrase that jars uncomfortably on twenty first century ears. However, in early 'sixties USA, when the civil rights movement is about to burst into flame, Anellia's unrequited love for an older and brilliant graduate student who is black is shown as a daring challenge to the norm. Anellia's love for Vernor Mattheius is total, but totally misplaced.
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