A new collection of dark, chilling tales from the #1 New York Times Bestselling author
From literary icon Joyce Carol Oates comes a brand new collection of haunting and, at times, darkly humorous mystery & suspense stories. These are tales of psyches pushed to their limits by the expectations of everyday life—from a woman who gets lost on her drive home to her plush suburban home and ends up breaking into a stranger’s house, to a first-person account of a cloned 1940s magazine pinup girl being sold at auction and embodying America’s ideals of beauty and womanhood.
Taken as a whole, the collection forms a poignant tapestry of regular people searching for their place in a social hierarchy, often with devastating and disastrous results. Rendered with stylish, fresh writing from an author who continues to push the envelope, the stories deftly weave in and out of a stream-of-consciousness to reflect the ways we process traumatic experiences and impart that uncertainty and uneasiness to the reader.
Originally appearing in publications as disparate as Harper’s, Vice, and Conjunctions, the stories comprising Night, Neon showcase Oates’ mastery of the suspense story—and her relentless use of the form to conduct unapologetically honest explorations of American identity.
Abuse, madness, confinement, and flight are prominent themes in this strong collection of nine varied, dark, and disquieting stories from Oates (Night, Sleep, Death, the Stars). Masterly executed stream-of-consciousness prose bolsters unpredictable, haunting tales like the impressive "Detour," in which a woman's ill-chosen route home leads her to a nightmarish alternate reality. In the equally unusual "Miss Golden Dreams 1949," the narrator is an expensively priced cloned collector's piece from the 1940s. Other highlights include the ingeniously crafted "Curious," which details an infatuated novelist's attempt to improve a grocery store clerk's unhappy situation, and the tense yet delightfully comic "Intimacy," in which a pitiable university professor is confronted by an aggressively unhinged student, who's resentful of the criticism his teacher and classmates have bestowed on his ghastly, deliberately upsetting fiction. Not every selection may be top-notch, but the erudite, inventive Oates is always worth reading.