What does everyone think about Joyce Carol Oats’ work?

What does everyone think about Joyce Carol Oats’ work?

58 Answers

  • I much prefer her nonfiction over her fiction. I’m still working on it, however.

  • Oates……..most prolific and talented writer of our time (imho). Love her work, not always easy to read though

  • Only tried one, which was aborted. Not eager to try another.

    • Was it one of her fiction or nonfiction? Was it the subject that turned you off or just her writing style?

    • Believe it was historical fiction. Too many characters, and wriiting style as well.

  • The Falls by Oates was the 1st book I’ve EVER quite. The writing made me want to tear my eyes out! Maybe her other works are better, but now I avoid her work.

    • Everything that I have read by her is written with a very similar style so you are probably doing the right thing by avoiding her work, Plus it will keep your eyeballs in your head where they belong lol!

    • Thanks! I’ve seen some that could be a great story, then I see her as the author and have to walk away.

  • Widow’s year is one of the best books on loss and grievance. I loved gravedigger’s daughter and the falls, too, but there are many books I just didn’t get.

  • She writes in so many genres and styles over a very long career and impossible to pigeonhole. If you hate one of her books pick one from another year and you might just love it.

    • So well put, Noreen. And do not believe this would describe any other contemporary writer.

  • Joyce Carol Oates is a marvelous writer but her plots are too dark for my taste.

  • She is one of my favorite authors but she is not for everyone. I heard her speak once and I have great respect for her as an author. I haven’t read everything she has written but I will eventually.

  • I liked Black Water but I didn’t like Them…so I’m not sure! 😄

  • I have tried over the years to read her work and I usually give up after 75-100 pages. I always felt like I had to read her books and enjoy them as she started out as a Michigan girl as I did. But, I don’t even give her a thought now as too many times the books did not hit me at all.

    • She is actually from upstate New York, where so many of her stories are based.

    • Maybe because of Them, she really knew Detroit in that time frame. ……..sixties

    • I read it years ago and the reread it bc she was going to talk about it at Chautauqua and it holds up well, still very good.

    • It’s easy to miss one of her books bc they are like trees in a big forest. I wonder if she has the world record for books written by a single author bc I don’t think she has people writing for her like some do.

    • I can’t believe any one person could have written as many books as she has. So prolific!

  • If the Old Testament were Cliff’s Notes, JCO’s books would be the full texts.

  • Born in Lockport NY was first in her family to graduate high school, went on with scholarship to Syracuse U.

    • She was 3 classes ahead of me at S.U., but everyone knew to avoid being in a class with her because she always set the curve!

  • We Were the Mulvaney’s is excellent, but some of her other works are too creepy for me.

  • She is so prolific and has written so many different kinds of book. If you don’t like one try another. We were the Mulvaneys is very good. The Falls, was very good. The first jco book I read was The Gravediggers daughter about an Jewish family in the 1930’s in America, I loved it. If I hadn’t liked that first book I might have never read another but I was lucky. Them, is a great read. She had a gothic period and some of them are horror. I don’t read horror but all of her books that I have read are good. I read the reviews and choose carefully as she writes about everything and doesn’t shy away from controversial topics. I saw her at Chautauqua a few years ago and she looks like a character from her books.

    • I love JCO! I agree with Bonnie- The Falls, We Were the Mulvaneys and Gravediggers Daughter are great ones to start with. (I’ve read many many more if hers and enjoyed most of of them)

  • My first encounter with jco was her short story. Where are you going, where have you been. At the time I thought it odd but gained an appreciation for it as I got older. After reading the short story we read Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers.

  • I have read several of her books and loved them all. She is in a class by herself and defies genre. I especially like The Falls. Her books make you think and stick with you long after you’ve finished.

  • I like many aspects of her writing, but she uses comma splices *constantly*, which I can’t stand. I can’t believe her editors don’t fix her grammar!

    • I was guilty of comma splices myself! It took a long time to get out of the habit.

  • I’ve read The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Foxfire, Mancrazy, Little Bird of Heaven, Them, Missing Mom, Wonderland, and A Fair Maiden. I enjoyed all of them. I didn’t like her older books, but I tried her again and now she’s a favorite.

  • The important thing is what do you think about it? 🙂 I’ve been reading her for twenty years and she goes some dark places sometimes but I like her. Your mileage may vary.

    • In general I do like her stuff. I have had so many people tell me that she is terrible but I just don’t agree that she is. From the opinions on here it seem like you either love it or hate it.

    • Ah, yeah. I try to avoid reviews unless I know a person for that very reason. Although I have found some folks through SBC that I share similar reading interests with, though — for one. 🙂 Helps because it can weed out some of the books you probably won’t like if you have super similar taste, and you feel validated when you find an author you either both like or maybe not so much.

  • I thought I would like her, I only tried We were the Mulvaneys, and I stopped, it was just depressing and I really didn’t get what happened, (let me say, I’m not dense 🙂 ) I never gave her another chance.

    • When I first read some of her short stories I felt a little lost but once I was able to understand her style It was a lot easier.

  • i have a love/hate relationship with it…some of it I love; some I hate 🙂

  • She is one of my favorite authors, but she definitely has a unique style.

  • She’s extremely prolific. I like her literary criticism but have never been that impressed with her fiction.

  • I think one must read all what she has written. She has no agenda whatsoever and writes about life as such.

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