Mysteries of Winterthurn is a work of haunting intensity, brilliantly conceived and executed, a terrifying portrait of a fallen world. And yet, as one senses the presence of light in the empirical datum of darkness, this phenomenology of the demonic hints at a mysterious presence of quite another kind, the ultimate paradox that shatters all finite categories of reason.
Oates paints a dark vision of America as a land where love of money is the root of everything and people are doomed to repeat their crimes. Oates, who rarely falters throughout this epic, does offer glimmers of justice and hope. But ultimately she has written an American tragedy.
So much more than the kind of standard-issue unreliable narrator, Georgene is a vastly complex character whose every word, every use of parentheses and italics, must be examined closely for intent. A thematically and stylistically ambitious novel that displays the author’s literary gifts to their maximum effect.
Oates paints an unflinching portrait of 1970s upper-middle-class America, touching on issues of racism, classism, and institutional abuse while exploring society’s tendency to value women solely in relation to the role they fill—be it wife, mother, or sexual object. A searing work of slow-burning domestic noir.
Oates typically leads her readers to focus on one plot element, while subtly rearranging the emotional landscape, leaving them in exhilaratingly uncharted territory. Spanning the first 30 years of Oates’s writing career, these stories aren’t for the faint of heart, but they’re a joy for anyone who appreciates the work of a master storyteller.
The six stories in the collection show Oates’ mastery of the form, across grisly body horror, experimental reflection, deep character study and sharp revenge fantasy. Across widely varying tone, from black comedy to utterly chilling, Oates is a writer utterly in command of her voice.
Two Calls for Papers: 1. Specters of Feminism in the Work of Joyce Carol Oates International Conference at Aix-Marseille Université Short proposals of approximately 300 words should be submitted by […]
These are dark stories about dark days, suffused, like most of Oates’s work, with themes of violence, loss and longing. She offers possibility here, too, but only as if to say that while the myriad choices we can make may produce wildly different journeys, none of us, ultimately, is spared.