Fifty years ago (1958), Joyce Carol Oates published the short story “Rapport” in Syracuse 10, the undergraduate literary magazine at Syracuse University where she was majoring in English. The year before, JCO had two stories in the magazine’s earlier incarnation, Syracuse Review. These three stories, along with a high-school story from 1956, make up JCO’s first published works.
Greg Johnson’s Invisible Writer notes JCO’s uncertainty about her stories’ dark subject matter and its possibly negative impact on a future career: “‘I am beginning to wonder about the wisdom of a great deal of some really vicious writing of mine which has been published in relationship to the future,’ she wrote, referring to her Syracuse 10 stories. Surprisingly, she considered it ‘quite likely that I will not be doing too much writing anymore.'”
Her reconsideration, and fifty years of hard work, have made JCO “one of the greatest literary forces of our time” (American Poetry Review, Jan/Feb 2008).