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The Corn Maiden: And Other Nightmares Kindle Edition

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Length: 385 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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From "Publishers Weekly: " The seven stories in this stellar collection from the prolific Oates (Give Me Your Heart) may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises. In the excruciating title tale, a novella subtitled A Love Story, an adolescent girl leads two of her friends in the kidnapping of 11-year old Marissa Bantry to enact the ritual sacrifice of the Corn Maiden as performed by the Onigara Indians. Children or childhood traumas play significant roles in Beersheba, in which a man s past catches up to him, and Nobody Knows My Name, in which the birth of a sibling turns nine-year-old Jessica s world upside down. Twins figure in both the eerie Fossil-Figures and the harrowing Death-Cup with its sly allusions to Edgar Allan Poe s William Wilson. In A Hole in the Head, a plastic surgeon succumbs to a patient s request for an unusual operation with unexpected results. This volume burnishes Oates s reputation as a master of psychological dread. From "Kirkus Reviews" Seven nightmarish tales written over a 15-year period. The first and longest story is the title novella, about Jude Trahern, a precocious and evil eighth-grader who abducts a fellow classmate, Marissa, to enact a ritual human sacrifice. Brilliant, charismatic and severely disturbed, Jude chooses Marissa because of the latter s status as an outsider, both new to the school and set apart by her intellectual slowness. Jude enlists two of her friends in the elaborately planned ceremony, but their enthusiasm begins to wane as things start to get spookier and it becomes clear that Jude is serious about following through on the ritual. Meanwhile, Marissa s mother, Leah, becomes frantic about her missing daughter and starts to believe in the guilt of Mikal Zallman, a part-time employee at the school whom Jude has cleverly implicated. The story ends on a jarring and somewhat surreal note as Leah and Mikal develop a romantic attachment. Throughout this collection Oates is fascinated by the idea of doubling, for example in Death-Cup, in which Lyle King tries to poison his evil twin Alastor with Amanita mushroom soup. Alastor is the evil brother, successful on the outside but unscrupulous within, and Lyle finds out that ultimately they can never be separated. (It s no coincidence that Lyle is designing a new edition, with hand-sewn pages and letterpress printing, of Poe s William Wilson. ) Similarly, in Fossil-Figures, brothers Edgar and Edward Waldman mirror opposing sides of the self, while in the masterful Beersheba womanizer Brad gets his comeuppance at the hands of Stacy Lynn, who at first comes on to him seductively and then exacts a terrible revenge. While the shadows of Poe and Hitchcock loom over these tales, it s clear that Oates herself is a master at creeping out her readers. Praise for Joyce Carol Oates: "Oates is just a fearless writer ... with her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers." "Los Angeles Times" "If the phrase 'woman of letters' existed, Joyce Carol Oates would be, foremost in this country, entitled to it." John Updike "What keeps us coming back to Oates country is her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something happening on the other side that we'd swear was life itself." "The New York Times Book Review" "Her genius happens to be giant." "The Washington Post Book World" "No living American writer echoes the chord of dread plucked by Edgar Allen Poe quite like Joyce Carol Oates." "The Plain Dealer" (Cleveland)"

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of over 70 works and the winner of a host of prizes including the National Book Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Oates is Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 863 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Head of Zeus (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #164,704 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.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lakis Fourouklas on 26 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Melancholy and agony are the two prevalent elements in this short story collection that comes out in America next week; agony about what tomorrow is going to bring, and melancholy for everything that the protagonists are going or have gone through and about their lives' ever repeating deadlocks.
The title story, which has the size of a novella, is I'd dare say the best by far. Reading through it we come to find out about the tragic events that take place in the life of a desperate woman, but we are also given a chance to have a good look into the darkness of some young souls. It all begins when eleven year old Marissa goes missing. The first suspect is a young professor, but soon enough he's cleared since he has an alibi. Leah, the girl's mother thinks that he's innocent too and somehow, little by little she starts getting close to him. As they talk things over they come to think that there's a big conspiracy taking place behind their backs. And a conspiracy there is. However, when the drama reaches its peak things take an unexpected turn which leads in a crude and ironical way to the fulfillment of somebody's dream.
Brad Shiftke and Stacey Lynn, a mysterious man and a young woman, star in Beersheba. Brad lives in Carthage, New York, where he one day meets Stacey who comes to visit. As it turns out she's his second wife's daughter. According to her he's to blame for her mother's death. Now she's here to seek revenge.
Jessica is a little girl that doesn't feel so well these days. She and her family are in a house on the mountains, a place she loves, but this time she cannot really enjoy her stay there. And that's only because the baby is with them; her newborn sister that draws all the attention on her and makes her jealous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miss Chinaski on 9 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates is one of the few writers whose work gets better as she goes on. I especially like her because she eschews formulas and attempts originality, not writing the same book over and over again. The titular story in this collection, beautifully written, is an agonising study of how in modern times, aided and abetted by the media, lives can be ruined at a childish whim. When you are young, horrors are usually fantastical; as you get older you begin to understand that real horror lies in the ordinary and the mundane. Oates's contes cruel (look it up!) are for readers who like to think, who don't need an author to spell everything out for them. Great stuff.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The gothic heart of modern America is examined again by Joyce Carol Oates in this terrifying collection of seven stories.
‘The Corn Maiden’, takes its inspiration from the ancient sacrificial rituals of Indian folklore, to describe the abduction and sadistic torture of Marissa, a shy young girl, from the viewpoint of two teenage narrators, Jude and Leah. The anguished voice of Marissa’s mother as she tries desperately to find her daughter alternates with that of her captors’ who are obsessed by Marissa’s beautiful golden hair, and who pretend not to know where she is. As in many of Joyce’s tales and novels, the voices of psychopathic, arrogant and delusional narrators are predominant. Joyce has an exceptional ability to capture these disturbing voices in their extreme fanatical obsessions, suggesting that these individuals are also symptomatic of moral emptiness in society at large.
In ‘Beersheba’, we are shown how the past haunts and catches up with the character of Brad Shiftke, a cocky womanizer and divorcee, now in his early 40s and suffering from diabetes. When Brad meets an unconventional young woman in her twenties for a drink, Beersheba, he lives to regret straying away into the woods to an abandoned church in the hope of having sex with her. Interestingly, Joyce makes us feel sympathy for Bradley despite ourselves. Beersheba’s heartless and violent plan is to avenge her mother’s accidental death, which Beersheba is convinced was due to Bradley leaving her mother. Again, it is the adamant convictions of Joyce’s characters that is chilling; frequently, their religious beliefs are used to justify their vengeful obsessiveness. As Beersheba tells Brad: “You will be scourged of God̶ that’s why you have been called to this place where there is nowhere to hide” (p.160).
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Format: Hardcover
Many years ago, I stumbled across a Joyce Carol Oates story in a horror anthology. What I most remember about the story was how vividly the feelings the characters experienced were portrayed. Whilst the story itself was not exactly a horror story in the mould of Stephen King and James Herbert, it was very well presented. With this experience, I had high hopes of ''The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares'' a brand new collection of short stories from Joyce Carol Oates.

In this collection, the overall theme and feeling is one of loss. In ''The Corn Maiden'', single mother Leah Bantry has to deal with the loss of her eleven year old daughter Marissa, who is suddenly not there one day when she gets home from work and then the loss of her privacy when she reports the loss to the Police. In ''Beersheba'', Brad has a reunion with a long-lost step-daughter which doesn't go quite the way he had hoped. ''Nobody Knows My Name'' is about the loss of identity felt by a single child where there is a new sibling in the house.

Both ''Death Cup'' and ''Fossil Figures'' cover the relationships felt between twin brothers and their effect on each other's lives, whether together or apart. ''Helping Hands'' is the story of a recently widowed woman struggling to cope with the loss of her husband, whilst the book closes with ''A Hole in the Head'', where a plastic surgeon at risk of losing it all tries something he maybe should have left well alone.

There is nothing traditionally horrific here; there are no vampires and monsters creeping out of the woodwork and every turn. But what makes Oates' writing so nightmarish is the way she takes the ordinary and twists it ever so slightly.
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