Recommended to Oates readers. The author has done a thorough job detailing the life and work of an enigmatic woman whose work is now perhaps better known by reputation (violent, Gothic, incredibly voluminous) than by content. That this should be the case is not surprising, since it is necessary to sift through a mass of writing of uneven quality if one wants to know what Oates is getting at, and in this sense "Invisible Writer" performs a necessary service by providing us with capsule summaries of each of the novels and many of the short stories and backtracking to the reception they received at the time, with Oates' own opinions on many of them. Space does not permit for any but the barest critical assessments, and this lack of a perspective on the work (other than the consequences for Oates' career as a whole) is the book's major weakness. It does a better job on bringing Oates herself to life, often through her own correspondence and notebooks. Perhaps its greatest contribution to future Oates scholarship lies in the revelation of a mystical experience Oates underwent at a turning point in her career, leading her from her formerly pessimistic, rather Romantic perspective to a disavowal of romanticism in favor of "collective consciousness"; her work since then has been less realistic, more postmodern, and, for many, of decreasing interest. Oates herself appears to have changed from a frightened and intense young woman to a happier person who is also a curious mix of selflessness and off-putting narcissism. Still, she comes off as a mostly (if not completely) sympathetic figure. On the whole, this book makes the best of a challenging job.