Book Review: Sourland: Stories – Joyce Carol Oates

Title: Sourland: Stories
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
ISBN: 9780061996528
Pages: 384
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Literary Fiction. Short Stories
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

In this collection of sixteen previously published but uncollected short stories, Joyce Carol Oates explores themes such as death, violence, and loss.   

Review:

I know that Joyce Carol Oates is the queen of short stories.  She has released countless short story collections and is the person that often comes to mind when discussing this format.  Therefore, I am almost ashamed to admit that, despite my love of literary fiction, I’ve never actually read any of Oates’ short stories.  Sure, I’ve read one of her novels, Little Bird of Heaven, but since I don’t read short stories very often, I haven’t picked up any of her collections.

I rectified that with Sourland: Stories and I definitely saw what I’ve been missing.  This collection revolves around the themes of loss and violence, and how the two are interconnected.  Whether it’s being punished for your dead husband’s decisions or being found alluring because, not in spite of, your amputated limbs, Oates writes lyrically and deftly about loss.  But there’s also the violence that comes with loss – the necessity to do something drastic in order to feel through the numbness after a loved one’s death, or the way a mother’s witnessing of a stabbing might affect her daughter.  These stories come together to explore these themes and beautifully expose the cruel side of human nature and the darkness within relationships.

Oates’ writing is melodic, a feast for tired eyes.  Her gorgeous prose makes these stories about difficult subjects easy to read.  Her descriptions are generous and vivid; the reader is able to picture these characters in their minds.  She really understands the human psyche and isn’t afraid to explore its darker sides through her prose. 

Sourland: Stories sounds like a depressing collection, but it really isn’t.  Oates’ meditations on relationships are worth reading, and her thoughts on violence and loss will leave the reader contemplating long after the last pages are turned.  If you haven’t read any of Oates’ stories before, this is a great place to start – my curiosity is certainly piqued and I’m eager to consume more.  If you’re a fan of Oates, then this book is a no-brainer – definitely don’t hesitate to pick it up.

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Comments

  1. Can you believe I’ve never read her? I think she should probably be required reading for any bibliophile. I love well-written short stories, and I do have a goal of reading more of those next year, so I will look into these!

  2. Can you believe I’ve never read her? I think she should probably be required reading for any bibliophile. I love well-written short stories, and I do have a goal of reading more of those next year, so I will look into these!

  3. I also have never read Oates before but have heard so, so much about her and her writing. I do have one of her newer books in my stack to review very soon, and I have to say that I am excited about it! This collection also sounds marvelous and though I haven’t read very many short story collections this year, this one sounds like a great one to pick up!

  4. I also have never read Oates before but have heard so, so much about her and her writing. I do have one of her newer books in my stack to review very soon, and I have to say that I am excited about it! This collection also sounds marvelous and though I haven’t read very many short story collections this year, this one sounds like a great one to pick up!

  5. I’ve never read any of Oates books at all and it’s something I know I need to rectify soon. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this so much.

  6. I’ve never read any of Oates books at all and it’s something I know I need to rectify soon. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this so much.

  7. Gosh! I have never read her…that is so bad. I need to correct this ASAP.

  8. Gosh! I have never read her…that is so bad. I need to correct this ASAP.

  9. Honestly, I didn’t know she was known for her short stories. I read her novel “We Were The Mulvaneys” and thought it was good …but I could definitely see that she might really excel at short stories.

  10. Honestly, I didn’t know she was known for her short stories. I read her novel “We Were The Mulvaneys” and thought it was good …but I could definitely see that she might really excel at short stories.

  11. I actually haven’t read anything by her, so you’re ahead of me. I’m glad you enjoyed these so much.

  12. I actually haven’t read anything by her, so you’re ahead of me. I’m glad you enjoyed these so much.

  13. Swapna – I started reading ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ on your rec and I’m loving it so far!

  14. Swapna – I started reading ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ on your rec and I’m loving it so far!

  15. I’ve read only one of her short stories in college but several of her novels. I received a copy of this at BEA and can’t wait to have time to read it.

  16. I’ve read only one of her short stories in college but several of her novels. I received a copy of this at BEA and can’t wait to have time to read it.

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