What’s That Book? A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates

Whats That Book

widow's story

TitleA Widow’s Story

Author:  Joyce Carol Oates

Genre: Memoir

Rating:  ****

What’s it about?  Joyce Carol Oates recounts the early months after her husband’s death in which she falls into a deep depression and withdraws from her friends and colleagues.  She talks about a basilisk, “the mythical reptile with a lethal gaze,” that haunts her with the temptation of suicide, a time that is clouded with grief and a childlike inability to complete the most basic tasks. She admits to keeping a cache of sleeping pills, tranquilizers and pain killers and finds comfort in knowing there is a way out.

How did you hear about it?  I’ve read several books and short stories by Oates and was interested in learning more about the woman behind the fiction.

Closing comment:  Oates reveals many personal thoughts about her experience and includes harsh criticism of the people who reached out to her.  It’s shocking to think about a prominent author, professor and speaker thinking this way.  But the most surprising to me is her willingness to reveal this weak and defeated self to the reader.

Contributor:  Ginette


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6 thoughts on “What’s That Book? A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates

  1. I remember reading about Oate’s memoir soon after it came out. I was a bit afraid to read it; sounded raw and wounded. Her books of fiction are edgy to me – with lost souls – and perhaps her memoir explains why…? But yes, I give Oates so much credit for writing so openly about her pain and loss.

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