From the legendary literary master, winner of the National Book Award and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of thirteen mesmerizing stories that maps the eerie darkness within us all.
Insightful, disturbing, imaginative, and breathtaking in their lyrical precision, the stories in Lovely, Dark, Deep display Joyce Carol Oates’s magnificent ability to make visceral the terror, hurt, and uncertainty that lurks at the edges of ordinary lives.
In “Mastiff,” a woman and a man are joined in an erotic bond forged out of terror and gratitude. “Sex with Camel” explores how a sixteen-year-old boy realizes the depth of his love for his grandmother—and how vulnerable those feelings make him. Fearful that that her husband is “disappearing” from their life, a woman becomes obsessed with keeping him in her sight in “The Disappearing.” “A Book of Martyrs” reveals how the end of a pregnancy brings with it the end of a relationship. And in the title story, the elderly Robert Frost is visited by an interviewer, an unsettling young woman, who seems to know a good deal more about his life than she should.
A piercing and evocative collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep reveals an artist at the height of her creative power.
Oates's (Carthage) newest collection characteristically mines the depths of the female psyche to find darkness there. In particular, she deals with women who hide medical procedures including, presciently, abortion from their loved ones ("Sex With Camel," "Distance," " Stephanos Is Dead'") and with women who struggle to assert themselves in relationships with their artistic, self-absorbed fathers ("Things Passed on the Way to Oblivion," "Patricide") and with lovers ("Mastiff," "A Book of Martyrs," "The Hunter," "The Disappearing"). Throughout, the lines that define these secrets and hidden desires captivatingly blur and dissolve. "The Jesters," about aging suburbanites who eavesdrop on their neighbors' seemingly picture-perfect life as it shatters, conjures both elements, and then ups the ante with a paranormal twist. A pair of longer stories the title story, "Lovely, Dark, Deep," which is a fictional reimagining of a young poet's interview with Robert Frost in his twilight years, and "Patricide," a longer exploration of a stifling father-daughter bond expand on these themes. As the interloping fianc e of "Patricide" says of her deceased lover, the Phillip Roth esque Roland Marks, "He knew women really well you could say, the masochistic inner selves of women." We might well say the same of Oates, with the same complimentary awe.