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Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories

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Obsession with loss, fear of betrayal, and sudden violence plague the characters who inhabit Oates' haunting fiction. Twenty-four stories take readers from inner cities to isolated backwaters, as Oates displays the full range of her imaginative powers in a collection that shocks, provokes, and astounds with its unexpected turns of events and their profound commentary on th Obsession with loss, fear of betrayal, and sudden violence plague the characters who inhabit Oates' haunting fiction. Twenty-four stories take readers from inner cities to isolated backwaters, as Oates displays the full range of her imaginative powers in a collection that shocks, provokes, and astounds with its unexpected turns of events and their profound commentary on the human condition.


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Obsession with loss, fear of betrayal, and sudden violence plague the characters who inhabit Oates' haunting fiction. Twenty-four stories take readers from inner cities to isolated backwaters, as Oates displays the full range of her imaginative powers in a collection that shocks, provokes, and astounds with its unexpected turns of events and their profound commentary on th Obsession with loss, fear of betrayal, and sudden violence plague the characters who inhabit Oates' haunting fiction. Twenty-four stories take readers from inner cities to isolated backwaters, as Oates displays the full range of her imaginative powers in a collection that shocks, provokes, and astounds with its unexpected turns of events and their profound commentary on the human condition.

30 review for Will You Always Love Me? and Other Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I've never read Joyce Carol Oates short works, and it's interesting to see here a collection of her consciously taking the same themes of her work (the necessary, hidden, powerful, destructive undercurrents of our personalites and desires and energy) but approaching them from a very different artistic place in each story. On some level, her work is always emotionally grueling, but this book of short stories is much more intellectually/aethestically engaging than much of the work of hers I've rea I've never read Joyce Carol Oates short works, and it's interesting to see here a collection of her consciously taking the same themes of her work (the necessary, hidden, powerful, destructive undercurrents of our personalites and desires and energy) but approaching them from a very different artistic place in each story. On some level, her work is always emotionally grueling, but this book of short stories is much more intellectually/aethestically engaging than much of the work of hers I've read. And unlike her novels, her she tends to inhibit the internal worlds of characters who are priveleged, deeply intelligent, successful, beautiful- very very unlike the longer bits of fiction which I've read of hers. I highly recommend this collection.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates. An amazing writer. One that I have had to make a pact with myself to take breaks from at times because of the powerful but bleak and dark view of life I often come away from her books with. This is a group of short stories. I enjoyed it more as this enables me to take this author in small bites, especially the darkly graphic windows into anger, violence, or strange confusion. I sort of love and hate some of these stories at the same time. Very well written as e The ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates. An amazing writer. One that I have had to make a pact with myself to take breaks from at times because of the powerful but bleak and dark view of life I often come away from her books with. This is a group of short stories. I enjoyed it more as this enables me to take this author in small bites, especially the darkly graphic windows into anger, violence, or strange confusion. I sort of love and hate some of these stories at the same time. Very well written as evidenced by my emotional and physical reaction to her writing. Memorable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Sydlik

    This collection of stories often focuses on characters who are alienated or going through some sort of mental crisis. Oates is known for delving into violent territory, and while some stories do hinge in some way on a rape, murder, or suicide, most of the darkness here is emotional or psychological. It's a strong collection, though not every story impressed me; some are more like sketches than stories, without a clear narrative or resolution. But the strong stories are very strong. The book is di This collection of stories often focuses on characters who are alienated or going through some sort of mental crisis. Oates is known for delving into violent territory, and while some stories do hinge in some way on a rape, murder, or suicide, most of the darkness here is emotional or psychological. It's a strong collection, though not every story impressed me; some are more like sketches than stories, without a clear narrative or resolution. But the strong stories are very strong. The book is divided into three parts. The first is the weakest, so if you're not hooked right away, continue to press on. "Act of Solitude" begins the book with a story about a wealthy white man who commits a hit-and-run on a homeless black man, and is haunted by the act. Great start. It's followed by several shorter pieces, interesting but not necessarily compelling. The title story closes the section, and it is one of the strongest in the book. Like other stories in the first part, it focuses on a couple with some tensions and/or mysteries between them. The woman's sister was raped and murdered, and she gets called to testify at the convicted man's parole board hearing. Confronting this makes them question the nature of love and relationships, guilt and innocence. "Life After High School" opens the next part, and it follows a woman who thinks about a man whom she dated during high school and killed himself. Again, it is about love and relationships, guilt and innocence. Other interesting stories include "American, Abroad," "The Girl Who Was to Die," and "The Handclasp." The last section is perhaps the strongest. "The Brothers" is a strange story about a man haunted by homoerotic dreams. "The Lost Child" is perhaps the most disturbing, about a group of girls who find a photograph they wish they hadn't. Some of the latter stories deal with spirituality. "The Passion of Rydcie Mather" is about an atheist who saves a girl from drowning, which seems to unwittingly prove she is in God's power, and she spends the rest of her life trying to push God away. "The Vision" is about an elderly couple who see and feel the appearance of the Virgin Mary. While it delights them at first, the effects of the experience quickly spiral out of control. "Mark of Satan" is a creepy story about a door-to-door evangelist and her daughter who ends up in the house of a man who has not-so-nice plans for them. These stories were often more restrained and quiet than I expected, though they do often feature disturbing situations or have violent acts as their backdrop. I'm not sure that any single story blew me away, but Oates' craft and provocative nature definitely shine through.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rashmi

    I read an excerpt of this book, "The Undersirable Table" A very thought-provoking and engaging read. I read an excerpt of this book, "The Undersirable Table" A very thought-provoking and engaging read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    E.A. Hardy

    Some of these stories 4+ for sure. Americans Abroad is my favorite.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Izabela

    The worst short story collection I've ever read. The worst short story collection I've ever read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eliot Parulidae

    One of Joyce Carol Oates' finest short story collections, Will You Always Love Me? starts with a bang: a story in which a rich man hits a homeless person with his car on purpose. Oates specializes in the horror underlying American life, an obsession that lists toward tabloid sleaze in the hands of lesser authors (and occasionally in Oates' hands, for one cannot be as prolific as she is without producing a clunker or two - see Man Crazy for details.) However, ruthless self-control characterizes t One of Joyce Carol Oates' finest short story collections, Will You Always Love Me? starts with a bang: a story in which a rich man hits a homeless person with his car on purpose. Oates specializes in the horror underlying American life, an obsession that lists toward tabloid sleaze in the hands of lesser authors (and occasionally in Oates' hands, for one cannot be as prolific as she is without producing a clunker or two - see Man Crazy for details.) However, ruthless self-control characterizes the stories in Will You Always Love Me? Nearly every sentence is tight as a violin string, every characterization precise. Oates' methods keep the reader uneasy without resorting to cheap scares. For instance, "The Revenge of the Foot, 1970" kicks off with the unforgettable image of drunken medical students playing touch football with a frozen severed foot. Instead of layering more lurid happenings on top of this one to keep the reader engaged, as Stephen King would, Oates follows the young woman who ends up with the foot, and the true climax is disturbing because of its subtlety and elegance, not in spite of it. A well-organized anthology is a delight to find, and Will You Always Love Me is remarkably well-organized given that all the stories were first published in journals or magazines. It has a secondary structure, as it were - the stories clump up based on common themes or motifs. characters suffer from cardiovascular disease in "The Track" and "The Handclasp"; women cope with the deaths of siblings in "The Missing Person" and "Will You Always Love Me"; "Life After High School" and "The Goose-Girl" both portray the unhappy sexual awakenings of young men; the final three stories deal with God and religion. The structure allows the reader a chance for richer intellectual exploration of the material. I know I tend to think harder when I can play at compare & contrast, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. My personal favorite story was "The Brothers," which concerns a mathematician tormented yet inspired by erotic dreams. These dreams are erotic in the old sense of the word; they tie the sexual impulse to the creative one, forcing the mediocre math professor to pursue his passion for musical composition. Yet all this comes at the cost of allowing childhood trauma to resurface.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    I love short stories. So when I learned that some consider Joyce Carol Oates a master of the short story, I had to give her a try. Will You Always Love Me? And Other Stories is a collection of twenty-two stories that have all been previously published in a variety of publications including Western Humanities Review, Cosmopolitan, Salmagundi, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Michigan Quarterly Review,and Southern Review. The stories are all about relationships. Many are dyads: husband wife; mother daug I love short stories. So when I learned that some consider Joyce Carol Oates a master of the short story, I had to give her a try. Will You Always Love Me? And Other Stories is a collection of twenty-two stories that have all been previously published in a variety of publications including Western Humanities Review, Cosmopolitan, Salmagundi, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Michigan Quarterly Review,and Southern Review. The stories are all about relationships. Many are dyads: husband wife; mother daughter; stepmother stepdaughter; sisters; teacher student; two strangers; parent child; evangelist sinner. Others are groups: well healed neighbors; childhood playmates; friends gathered at a restaurant; people seeking a vision of the Virgin Mary. Some are about the darker side of life: lost dog, lost child, lost love; murder suicide; deception; closeted gay teenagers; physical and emotional abuse; secrets never to be uttered. I have now read We Were the Mulvaneys and Will You Always Love Me? as my introduction to JCO. I think I will read more of her books, but not if I am looking for something optimistic or humorous.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pewterbreath

    Oates has always been famous for her stories, and these have some particularly famous ones. Some people dislike oates for her lack of "closure," but I kinda like that side---the need for closure in literature is a very American trait, and it's very unlike life to have things end in a neat, tidy way (and often things don't end at all.) Other than death that is. Oates has always been famous for her stories, and these have some particularly famous ones. Some people dislike oates for her lack of "closure," but I kinda like that side---the need for closure in literature is a very American trait, and it's very unlike life to have things end in a neat, tidy way (and often things don't end at all.) Other than death that is.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    A Very Carol Oates Christmas... "My mother was in the back bedroom crying. Christmas night, you wouldn't think it could still be the same day. She'd been crying seeing the raggedy doll thrown across the room. She'd been drinking too..." So far really enjoying staying up all hours of the night and reading these out of order[story roulette style] A Very Carol Oates Christmas... "My mother was in the back bedroom crying. Christmas night, you wouldn't think it could still be the same day. She'd been crying seeing the raggedy doll thrown across the room. She'd been drinking too..." So far really enjoying staying up all hours of the night and reading these out of order[story roulette style]

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    "Then, by degrees, she'd realized, no, no, I am not like this at all, I am the person I always was, from the first, I don't need others to define me, it's in fact others who misdefine me." "For food consumed in the presence of dear friends is not mere food but sustenance; a sustenance of the soul." "Then, by degrees, she'd realized, no, no, I am not like this at all, I am the person I always was, from the first, I don't need others to define me, it's in fact others who misdefine me." "For food consumed in the presence of dear friends is not mere food but sustenance; a sustenance of the soul."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    You know... whenever I'm feeling like a little bit of crazy, I just pick up Joyce Carol Oates and pleasantly remind myself of how normal I really am. This collection of stories attacks the behind-the-closed-door realities of relationships and love, and confronts us with some pretty awful realities. Fun for a while, but a bit depressing in large doses. You know... whenever I'm feeling like a little bit of crazy, I just pick up Joyce Carol Oates and pleasantly remind myself of how normal I really am. This collection of stories attacks the behind-the-closed-door realities of relationships and love, and confronts us with some pretty awful realities. Fun for a while, but a bit depressing in large doses.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amber Seamans

    These were okay, and the writing is pretty enough. It just didn't knock my socks off. Many of the stories felt like they could have been so much more effective with small changes. There are bright spots; this one simply was not my favorite short story collection. These were okay, and the writing is pretty enough. It just didn't knock my socks off. Many of the stories felt like they could have been so much more effective with small changes. There are bright spots; this one simply was not my favorite short story collection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Short stories are not my thing, but JCO is a writer who is always fearless about going to the heart of the matter, so the short story is a great form for her. I'm not always comfortable about following where she goes, but I'm always enlightened and often moved. Short stories are not my thing, but JCO is a writer who is always fearless about going to the heart of the matter, so the short story is a great form for her. I'm not always comfortable about following where she goes, but I'm always enlightened and often moved.

  15. 5 out of 5

    maggie dalkowska

    Fantastic collection of short stories. Each one presents a different problem. Something to think about. Good for book club discussion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    I like JCO. These stories were too heavy to read one after the other. Take at least 24 days. They tell of man's inhumanity to man. Who suffers most?-- the evil one or the victim? I like JCO. These stories were too heavy to read one after the other. Take at least 24 days. They tell of man's inhumanity to man. Who suffers most?-- the evil one or the victim?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Some stories are better than others. I do love the way J.C.O. writes, and I have written a quote from one of her stories down in my quote book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marcos

    Some stories are really awesome, some were a bit drawn out for me, but its always entertaining, dark, and nasty at times...oh Joyce..:)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Holly Troup

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Kendrick

  21. 4 out of 5

    Libscigrl

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rambling Reader

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Harrington

  24. 4 out of 5

    Madelyn Hall

  25. 4 out of 5

    Moira

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Simmons

  27. 5 out of 5

    Patrica

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ginnifer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Agata Cupriak

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