By Joyce Carol Oates

From the legendary literary master, winner of the National Book Award and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of thirteen spellbinding stories that maps the eerie darkness within us all.

Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Ecco
Year: 2014
Pages: 432

Insightful, disturbing, and mesmerizing in their lyrical precision, the stories in Lovely, Dark, Deep display Joyce Carol Oates’s astonishing ability to make visceral the fear, 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 her husband is vanishing 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, a troubling 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 Joyce Carol Oates at her most imaginative and unsettling.



  • Sex with Camel information
  • Mastiff information
  • Distance information
  • A Book of Martyrs information
  • “Stephanos Is Dead” information


  • The Hunter information
  • The Disappearing information
  • Things Passed on the Way to Oblivion information



  • Patricide information

""Louise Erdrich Reads and Discusses “Mastiff”

From The New Yorker:

""Blogger Karen Carlson uncovers Frost’s “Mending Wall” in “Lovely, Dark, Deep”

“This narrative shift in the story – the tearing down of the wall between Evangeline and Frost, the melding of subject and object – and its placement at this point in the story, gave me goosebumps, because … this story is ‘Mending Wall,’ showing the wall in place, and come down, and yes, it is horrifying. Perhaps to be a bit more Freudian about it: the boundary between ego and superego has been collapsed, and the guilt is just tearing through pale, tender skin like acid.”

Read Karen Carlson’s lovely, deep analysis here.

Book Covers


  • 2015 finalist: Pulitzer Prize for fiction
    “A rich collection of stories told from many rungs of the social ladder and distinguished by their intelligence, language and technique.”

  • Best American Short Stories, 2014: “Mastiff”


Alan Cheuse, NPR, September 10, 2014
5 stars
And Oates is a giant among us, as prolific as the worst of the writers who produce dreck and turn it into cash, but thoroughly wonderful and important. She writes about both men and women, ordinary people and professional people, Easterners and country folk, the unloved, those caught up in the web of first love, the married, and the bereaved, families with children, widows, the famous, the gifted but underrated, celebrities and those who toil away at their lives in obscurity. Where Balzac wanted to give his readers Paris in its entirety, Joyce Carol Oates has dared to give her readers an entire country — our own.

Eric K. Anderson, Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies, 2014
5 stars
“The stories are as mesmerizing as they are terrifying, drawing the reader into the complex psychological experience of every subject they touch upon. This collection demonstrates how Oates continues to push boundaries in her short fiction and tread in dangerous territory.”

Publishers Weekly, September 15, 2014
4 stars
“As the interloping fiancée 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.”

Andre van Loon, Toronto Star, October 4, 2014
4 stars
Lovely, Dark, Deep is a strong, highly expressive collection. Oates’ battle for self-control and truth rages still, animating the best of these stories even as they acknowledge fear and loss. The collection does not depress — it instead sharpens the brain and stills the heart.

JR Scrafford, Washington Independent Review of Books, November 22, 2014
4 stars
Oates’ short stories are captivating, sad, compassionate, and haunting. They continue to capture the uncertainty, hurt, and darkness in all of us. Her fertile mind is our gain.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2014
3 stars

Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe, September 13, 2014
3 stars

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2014, p. 29
3 stars

Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, June 15, 2014
3 stars

Leanna Bales, Kansas City Star, September 19, 2014
3 stars

Charles Finch, New York Times Book Review, October 5, 2014, p. 23
one star

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