Bay Reads - June 2018
- by Carole McKellar
On Saturday, July 14, Pass Books in Pass Christian hosts Joyce Carol Oates from 6:00 to 7:00. The event features two story collections published in 2018, “Beautiful Days” and “Night Gaunts.” You may purchase books at the bookstore signed by Ms. Oates.
One of America’s most prolific writers, Oates has more than 40 novels published under her name plus 11 others using the pseudonyms Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly. In addition, she has written short story collections, novellas, volumes of poetry, plays, essays, memoirs, young adult fiction, and books for children.
Beautiful Days, published this year, consists of eleven stories. All of the stories previously appeared in respected periodicals but never appeared together. The subject matter is diverse including stories of extramarital affairs and suicide alongside fantasy.
“Les Beaux Jours” is about a vulnerable girl desperate for the love of her absent father. She is drawn into a Balthus painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The subject imagines herself a prisoner inside the painting and writes a letter to her father begging him to rescue her from the cruelties imposed by the Master.
In “Undocumented Alien” a Nigerian student is saved from deportation by participating in a classified research project. A chip implanted in his brain adversely affects his cognitive function and drives him to madness. This chilling story describes a young man fighting to maintain his humanity.
Although the eleven stories are disturbing and generally dark in tone, I liked this collection. Oates is a skilled and imaginative writer.
Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense is on my nightstand, and I look forward to reading the six creepy tales within. The first story, “The Woman in the Window,” is a reimagining of Edward Hopper’s painting, ’11 A.M., 1926,’ which features a woman sitting in an apartment window naked except for high heels. That painting is on the front cover of “Beautiful Days.”
At eighty years old, Joyce Carol Oates continues to earn the respect of readers and writers alike. She avoids celebrity and has cultivated a reputation for hard work and professionalism. Oates is regularly discussed as a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. I look forward to meeting Ms. Oates at Pass Books and consider it an honor for the coast to have such a literary icon visit.