The Poisoned Kiss and Other Tales from the Portuguese by Joyce Carol Oates
The Vanguard Press, Inc. (hardback), 1975
BLURB FROM THE COVER
From the prize-winning novelist and author of the recent highly successful The Goddess and Other Women comes a new book of stories that shows still a different facet of Miss Oates’s incredible talent: another milieu, characters quite other than those she has so magnificently drawn in her previous work. As Miss Oates writes in a Note to the book, these stories seem to have been written through the influence of an unknown, a Portuguese, whom she calls Fernandes. Although Miss Oates has never been to Portugal, she captures the atmosphere of persons and places precisely, writing of a world she has never known but that she sees almost clairvoyantly.
…. The warm glimmering shadows like breaths and the whispering beneath me, the whispering, my glazed eyes darker than the shadows ever get… I am adored, and I held the Child in the crook of my right arm… his sweet face stares out across the bent heads to the heavy closed doors… beyond their carvings the square, the fountain, the roadway… the orchards of fig and apricot… the hollow sound of the windmills, the clunking, clunking of the gourds across the miles… golden, golden fields…
OUR LADY OF THE EASY DEATH OF ALFERCE
The Poisoned Kiss and Other Tales from the Portuguese is an earlier collection by JCO. I enjoyed this collection overall and thought most of the stories were strong. The best stories in the collection include Loss, The Enchanted Piano. Two Young Men, Sunlight/Twilight, The Poisoned Kiss and The Murderer. I didn’t really enjoy the opening story Our Lady of the Easy Death of Alferce. JCO uses a disjointed, experimental style that doesn’t really work. She uses a similar style for later stories including The Poisoned Kiss and the style does work but not for Our Lady of the Easy Death of Alferce. This collection is a bit different than other story collections written by JCO, different in a good way. Some of the stories in The Poisoned Kiss and Other Tales from the Portuguese really push JCO as a writer and the results are mostly a success. The Poisoned Kiss and Other Tales from the Portuguese is one of JCO’s better collections.