Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Patchwork is intended to be a resource for students, scholars, and fans of Joyce Carol Oates’s work. Begun as a simple bibliography in August of 1995, the site has since grown tremendously, offering, perhaps, a surface reflection of JCO’s own deep literary project. A goal is to provide a free exchange of information, and to encourage discussion and scholarship among JCO’s admirers around the world.

book coversAs an extension of this website, in 2014 I began creating an archive of Ontario Review, the literary journal run by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates; and I started a scholarly journal, Bearing Witness: Joyce Carol Oates Studies.

Read an interview discussing Celestial Timepiece.


JCO has written a poem called “Celestial Timepiece,” but this site actually took its name from a passage in her Gothic masterpiece, Bellefleur:

Celestial Timepiece was the largest quilt, but Matilde was sewing it for herself—it wasn’t to be sold: up close it resembled a crazy quilt because it was asymmetrical, with squares that contrasted not only in color and design but in texture as well.

“Feel this square, now feel this one,” Matilde said softly, taking Germaine’s hand, “and now this one—do you see? Close your eyes.” Coarse wool, fine wool, satins, laces, burlap, cotton, silk, brocade, hemp, tiny pleats. Germaine shut her eyes tight and touched the squares, seeing them with her fingertips, reading them. Do you understand? Matilde asked.

Noel complained that Celestial Timepiece made his eye jump. You had to stand far back to see its design, and even then it was too complicated—it gave him a headache. “Why don’t you just sew some nice little satin comforter,” he said. “Something small, something pretty.”

“I do what I am doing,” Matilde said curtly.


For its first twenty years, Celestial Timepiece was served from the University of San Francisco; starting in 2015 it is moving to a new home on WordPress.

See a visual history of Celestial Timepiece.


Joyce Carol Oates/portrait/La Stampa
Joyce Carol Oates by Paolo Galetto — Watercolor on cotton paper/La Stampa 24/06/2012

In constructing this site, I have had the good fortune to encounter a number of generous individuals who have provided valuable information, assistance, and encouragement including Kathleen Manwaring, keeper of the JCO Archive at the Syracuse University Library, and Greg Johnson, author, critic, and biographer of JCO.

Joyce Carol Oates herself has been astoundingly generous in allowing me to use her material on this web site; and though it is my own personal project, it has nonetheless become the de facto official JCO website.


I am a reference librarian at the University of San Francisco.

JCO and I
“JCO and I” — A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books, San Francisco, 1990.


  1. P.S. JESSICA HAGEDORN! Forget to include her name in the pantheonic list in my last email. You and your readers would enjoy her, I think – vivid characters, plots that often veer into the dark side,
    delicious prose, sympathies for the underdog and scorn for the powerful, etc. And Hagedorn is a great introduction to life in the Philippines. Try the crime anthology she edited, MANILA NOIR, or
    her first novel, DOG EATERS, or her story of Phil-Am rock musicians, GANGSTER OF LOVE,
    or TOXICOLOGY, her description of an affair between an old American writer (a Dorothy Parker-inspired character perhaps) and a young Filipina film director.


  2. Hi there I’m currently searching for one of her short stories which I’m having difficulty locating.
    Titled The Molesters – here’s a summary of what the story is about :
    A six-year-old girl recounts an experience of abuse at a creek with a stranger. She tells it three times, adding more details the second and third times.

    I’ve had a look through all her short story collections and haven’t been able to find it.
    any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Hi Lou — “The Molesters” appeared in the 1968 novel “Expensive People” and was published in the Quarterly Review of Literature 15, iii-iv (1968): 393-409, and was later collected in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been: Selected Early Stories.”


  3. Hello there. I’m a Ph.D. scholar from India. I intend to conduct doctoral research on Joyce Carol Oates’ works. I am writing to request permission to pursue my research. JCO’s approval to conduct the research will be greatly appreciated.


  4. @Randy Souther, Thank you.
    It’s mandatory here in India, particularly in my University, to seek the author’s permission to pursue the research. As a matter of fact, it will add credibility to my Doctoral Research.
    Are there any ways to contact JCO? Please let me know.


  5. Greeting!
    I am a college student from China, majoring in translation. I plan to translate one of Joyce’s short story titled “The Dead” for academic paper and then write a report concerning the E-C translation.
    The very first and foremost thing I am obliged to do is to confirm that there is no published Chinese version of this piece of work with Joyce’s authorization .
    Hopefully I can get a prompt reply at your earliest convenience. Your generous confirmation shall be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


  6. I understand Joyce has Jewish Hungarian roots. I wonder if she has read Alex Kershaw’s “The Envoy,” which is about the rescue of Jews in Budapest at the close of WWII?


  7. Thank you for this amazing site and the work you have put into it over the years. I have fallen deeply into Bloodsmoor Romance and your thoughtful, comprehensive and appealing site made my day!


  8. Hi there, I am wondering if you/anyone can please assist me, I am searching for a short story written by Joyce Carol Oates, inspired by, or about, Serial Killer Dean Corll and his young accomplices in Houston, Texas. Can you please tell me the name of it and where it was published? I read this incredible short story many years ago and now I cannot recall the title or where to find it, any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


      • Hi Randy, thanks so much for considering and your response, I was sure JCO had written it, maybe I am going bonkers! Yes, I’m aware of “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” but I know it’s not that one. I have a feeling it may have somehow been associated with her article/essay ‘I had No Other Thrill or Happiness’ (or at least I found it at the same time I read this so many years ago). https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1994/03/24/i-had-no-other-thrill-or-happiness/,
        However, I don’t have access to read all of that on that link. At one stage I had a photocopy of the article and the short story. I shall keep looking.


      • Schmid also had “accomplices” and JCO wrote that she went on to explore that phenomenon in a later story called “Testimony” — perhaps that’s the one? Narrated by a girl who lures a victim to the killer and “helps out” over several days.


      • Hi Randy,
        it definitely had an exploration of ‘accomplices’ however I’m pretty sure they were all males, I think it may have even been non-fiction, as I recall who it was about, and it was incredibly evocative of the suburbs of Houston. Perhaps I have the wrong author, however, it left its mark on me, and for some reason for all these years, I have thought of it as written by JCO. In my memory to style seems to fit with hers too.


  9. Hi Randy,
    I have just discovered this site and am so thrilled and grateful for all of your hard work in putting this together!
    I am an avid lifelong reader of JOC, and am reading my way through her bibliography. What a treasure chest of information you’ve put together all in one place. It is such an amazing tribute to one of our greatest writers of all time.
    Thank you so very much. 🙂


  10. To Mrs Joyce Carol Oates, from a French young widow.

    How can I write to you without feeling like I’m repeating myself? Like thousands of people no doubt, readers must have told you how your book “I managed to stay alive” has been more than a support, a mirror, a crutch. I lost my husband, a music composer, aged 50, 7 months ago, after 3 years of battle and strength against cancer, after 23 years together. But his admission to hospital was not planned last summer. Suddenly, everything accelerated. As I read you, I see myself, hear myself, look at myself and feel myself. I want to share this book with my family so that they can try to understand. Keep it warm for my two boys, aged 12 and 10. How to thank you, impossible. I laugh, I cry and I lean on your book all day, I note and remember certain sentences. I feel so much like you in this “nest”.
    Thank you. So much.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. From a fellow reader of JCO:

    Elsa, thank you for your post–it touched me so deeply. I am so sorry for your loss, and so happy that you find such comfort in JCO’s writing, as do I.

    I wish you all the best in these hours of lead, and thank you again for such a beautiful tribute to JCO. It moved me.


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