Idiosyncratic Distortions With JCO

Readerville’s Gayla Bassham points to the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s interview with Joyce Carol Oates, who’s traveling to San Diego to discuss two of her latest books, the novel My Sister, My Love and the short-story collection, Wild Nights! I’m much more a fan of the latter than the former—her ability to inhabit the minds of four notable American writers seems like a more impressive achievement then registering a straightforward (if epic) grouse about tabloid culture. Plus, Wild Nights! allowed her to hang out with the folks she considers her people:

“I think of myself as a wholly American writer in the tradition, however our styles may vary, of Melville, Poe, Twain, Dreiser, Faulkner, Hemingway – holding a kind of mirror to our lives that, despite its idiosyncratic distortions, is an authentic reflection of our lives.”

“American writers are fascinated by their now-iconic, ‘classic’ predecessors,” Oates states. “There is a kind of hypnotic spell cast by the 19th-century writers of idiosyncratic genius and by the incomparable tragic figure, Hemingway. The major attraction in writing about them in fiction – I’ve written about each of them in critical essays – was to immerse myself in their language and in their worldviews, to the degree to which I could do this.”

Two more JCO books are coming: A story collection, Dear Husband, and a mystery-suspense novel, A Fair Maiden.

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