Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Pub. Date: June 6, 2017
Rating" 4 out of 5 stars
This collection is of the high quality you would expect from Oates but, at least for me, doesn't reach the high standard she made for herself in The Doll-Master. About four stories are excellent and hits me in my guts even with her subtleties. But the other three are more misses than hits. Of the successes, "Great Blue Heron" is the most beautifully written as it deals with a grieving widow who fantasizes over the predator bird on her lake with harrowing results. "Heartbreak" explores a competitive relationship between two young sisters and is the most directly powerful story of the lot. The title story examines similar young girl yearnings and fantasies of a young protagonist who may not be making the best decisions about who she hangs out with. "The Drowned Girl" is about a college student's obsession on a girl who drowned in a water tank. It's a sneaky little story about those dark obsessions that take us over. All four of these takes grabs on to some inner darknessof the reader just like the best Oates fiction is liable to do.
The other three works are of high quality but didn't really hold me. That is true especially for "Welcome to Friendly Skies!" which seems awkward. It may be possible evidence that humor is not the author's forte.
Yet four superlative stories of seven is not bad at all especially when the judgement is in the reader's subjective mind. What is unarguable is that any collection of Joyce Carol Oates will reward you with superb writing, dark imagery, and a glimpse into the human condition.