Among contemporary writers, Joyce Carol Oates is the unrivaled American master of the short story. She has exploited the genre with such energy, versatility, and resourcefulness that critics routinely compare her not with any of her contemporaries but with past writers such as Chekhov and James.

Her work encompasses a broad range of styles and techniques, from realistic, carefully plotted stories in the tradition of Henry James to bold, metafictional experiments inspired by Nabokov and Borges. Underlying this dissimilarity of approach, however, is a consistent aesthetic program, described by Oates in 1982: “My method has always been to combine the ‘naturalistic’ world with the ‘symbolic’ method of expression, so that I am always—or usually—writing about real people in a real society, but the means of expression may be naturalistic, realistic, surreal, or parodistic. In this way I have, to my own satisfaction at least, solved the old problem—should one be faithful to the ‘real’ world, or to one’s imagination?”

—Greg Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates: A Study of the Short Fiction

Short Story Collections


See also: The Glass Ark: A Joyce Carol Oates Bibliography


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