Unlike anything Joyce Carol Oates has written before, A Widow’s Story is the universally acclaimed author’s poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of Raymond Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath. A recent recipient of National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Oates, whose novels (Blonde, The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Little Bird of Heaven, etc.) rank among the very finest in contemporary American fiction, offers an achingly personal story of love and loss. A Widow’s Story is a literary memoir on a par with The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Calvin Trillin’s About Alice.
Early one morning in February 2008, Oates drove her husband, Raymond Smith, to the Princeton Medical Center where he was admitted with pneumonia. There, he developed a virulent opportunistic infection and died just one week later. Suddenly and unexpectedly alone, Oates staggered through her days and nights trying desperately just to survive Smith's death and the terrifying loneliness that his death brought. In her typically probing fashion, Oates navigates her way through the choppy waters of widowhood, at first refusing to accept her new identity as a widow. She wonders if there is a perspective from which the widow's grief is sheer vanity, this pretense that one's loss is so very special that there has never been a loss quite like it. In the end, Oates finds meaning, much like many of Tolstoy's characters, in the small acts that make up and sustain ordinary life. When she finds an earring she thought she'd lost in a garbage can that raccoons have overturned, she reflects, "If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash." At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Widow's Story
Pure Joyce Carol Oates. Keeping herself alive, taking us with her in her struggle to do so, indeed, depending on our witness, as if we were all her friends (as perhaps we are), ranting, raving, poeticizing, weeping, enduring, Impossible not to love this, to love her. Thank you, Joyce.
Something is to be learned about human nature by reading Oates introspective memoir. However, I am half way through the book and I do not think I can finish. The story is simply too depressing, as the title implies, and I do not enjoy reading it.
As a young widow, I can truly see where Joyce speaks of all the trials and tribulations that a widow experiences. This is a must read for all who have lost their soulmate. Not a self help book but one that shows the journey that will experience in one way or another.