Joyce Carol Oates has long been a master of the short story, and in Beautiful Days: Stories (Ecco) she delivers another collection featuring stories both mysterious and surreal—and stories that are perfectly pitched for the confusion of the current political landscape. The diverse stories here explore the most secret, intimate, and unacknowledged interior lives of characters not unlike ourselves, who assert their independence in acts of bold and often irrevocable defiance.
“Fleuve Bleu” exemplifies the rich sensuousness of Oates’s prose, as lovers married to other persons vow to establish, in their intimacy, a ruthlessly honest, truth-telling authenticity missing elsewhere in their complicated lives, with unexpected results. In “Big Burnt,” set on lushly rendered Lake George in the Adirondacks, a cunningly manipulative university professor exploits a too-trusting woman in a way she could never have anticipated. And the tragic “Undocumented Alien” depicts a young African student enrolled in an American university who is suddenly stripped of his student visa and forced to undergo a terrifying test of courage.
In these stories, as elsewhere in her fiction, Joyce Carol Oates exhibits her fascination with the social, psychological, and moral boundaries that govern our behavior—until the hour when they do not.
Praise for Joyce Carol Oates
“Simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious, and creative writer going.” —Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“Oates is just a fearless writer . . . [with] her brave heart and her impossibly lush and dead-on imaginative powers.” —Los Angeles Times
“One of the towering careers in American letters.” —Washington Post
Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.