Michael Dirda, a Washington Post book critic, reviews several Joyce Carol Oates works in the New York Review of Books, including The Gravedigger’s Daughter (“Though one may argue about aspects of the book, there can be no question of its power and conviction. The same can be said about most of Oates’s major novels …. Oates is never merely a realist; she’s also an artist of the sublime, conveying both awe and grandeur.”); The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982, edited by Greg Johnson (“this is largely a journal of the interior life, one that emphasizes the author’s more theoretical and philosophical views about the nature of art, while also describing her creative routine and recording her progress on the current book”); and The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense (“Joyce Carol Oates is as much a ‘genre author’ as she is a major American novelist. One might even say that she has come to look upon all literature as the genre she works in so inventively, adapting classic themes, paying homage to old masters, writing in various styles and forms—while somehow remaining true to her own intense imagination.”). Dirda addresses the chief complaint some reviewers have with JCO (productivity), and makes a minor error referring to the novel A Bloodsmoor Romance as “A Bloodsworth Romance,” one of its early working titles as mentioned in the Journal. [note: this has since been corrected by the editors] Dirda seems to be, overall, a JCO admirer, writing in 1997 in the Washington Post about the last quarter-century of American fiction, “Oates’s novels are so various—from the gothicky Bellefleur to the grim Because It is Bitter and Because It is My Heart to the suave psychological thrillers written as Rosamond Smith—that one can only shake one’s head in astonishment.”
I read the review with pleasure and agree with the reviewer in the New York Times that Joyce Carol Oates is a remarkable writer. With about 100 works published she is unsurpassed, and they are not mass production but excellent novels, most of them (with a few exceptions).