I am allowing myself to embrace my literary “snob-ness” for one post. I believe that you all can handle this, or at least I hope so. With that said I often get teased for my love towards the author Joyce Carol Oates. My dear Joyce tends to be seen as dark and, yes, very depressing. This is because she chooses to write mostly of human loss. Not necessarily an actual life being lost (although that is often the case) but a relationship perhaps, a phase in life, a dream, innocence, or a person’s hopes.
I love her because she does not sugarcoat. Her stories, her characters, are all very much raw. They are dirty and messy, and conflict is aired with all it’s nasty emotional scarring and awful gaping holes.
I read her novel “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” and it was love at first metaphor. After that I devoured everything I could find of hers. This was during my short-story craze so for weeks I read 30+ of her stories, until I had to stop before I became burnt out on her writing. Literature is like wine, you want to pace yourself so you can enjoy all its wonders.
O Joyce, my dear Joyce, she is who comforted me my freshman year of college when I decided to turn my private passion into my area of “expertise.” Writing isn’t something I simply do, it’s a part of who I am. When I began to write for classes I realized how I would deliberately create something that would slap a person in the face with all the harsh realities of life. Whether it was a story or simply a sentence, I wanted that impact factor that made a person cringe on the inside. I did not want to sugar coat. Joyce was my saving grace in that I learned I was not alone in this. Maybe this is why I am so partial to her.
I refuse to read poor writing. It is the same with films, I refuse to watch a film with a poor plot and terrible acting. It makes me physically ill, and I don’t see why I should have to waste time on “art” that is thrown together sloppily for the sole purpose of making a quick buck. (For example, the still-booming market of the dime-novels… one more cover with a Fabio look-alike and I think I may mass murder some authors.) My standards were set pretty high when I started reading Austen, Steinbeck, and Bronte in sixth grade, and I haven’t settled for anything less since. Oates is one of those writers who I feel delivers solid plots, flushes her characters out, and provides amazing writing with every piece. She turns tragedy into something beautiful.
Have I convinced anyone to read anything of hers yet?
The quote from above is one I found a few years ago. I adore it. I hope to always be growing more into who I was meant to be, not changing it. I thank you Joyce for pointing this out.
Sorry for the disjointed post this time folks, but I hope it delivered something worthwhile for you to read.
If you’re looking for any good Winter reads and are interested in Joyce Carol Oates here are a few novels that I have loved by her: