Book Review: The Goddess & Other Women by Joyce Carol Oates


The Goddess & Other Women by Joyce Carol Oates

Fawcett Crest Books (paperback), 1974

463 Pages


THE GODDESS AND OTHER WOMEN is the fifth collection of short stories by celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates. It was with the short story that Miss Oates’s meteoric career was launched, and in this volume she uses again her incomparable talent for penetrating the mind and heart.

The twenty-five stories in THE GODDESS AND OTHER WOMEN concern women; women and girls of all ages living the crisis of their daily lives – a young girl who finds herself playing the role of The Girl on a California beach; another wanting love so desperately she will do anything to secure it; a 12-year-old girl who provokes a young black to ruinous violence; an overly intellectual college professor whose husband has left her; a young woman who drifts toward suicide and is saved by the oddest of circumstances… 


Came by with a truck, The Director and Roybay and a boy I didn’t know. Roybay leaned out the window, very friendly. I got in and we drove around for a while. The Director telling us about his movie-vision, all speeded-up because his friend, his contact had lent him the equipment from an educational film company in town, and it had to be back Sunday P.M. The Director said: ‘It’s all a matter of art and compromise’. He was very excited. I knew him from before, a few days before; his name was DePinto or DeLino, something strange, but he was called The Director. He was in the third person most of the time (THE GIRL) 


This was my first read through of The Goddess & Other Women, one of JCO’s earliest collections.

I thought this collection of stories was great. I enjoyed every story in The Goddess & Other Women. Unusually for a collection of short stories, none of the stories were duds. It’s rare to find a collection of short fiction that doesn’t have at least one story that just doesn’t work. Every story in The Goddess & Other Women works and works well. The Goddess & Other Women is one of the strongest of JCO’s earliest story collections. The stories are all quite dark in tone. Among my favourites are The Girl, I Must Have You, Small Avalanches, A Girl at the Edge of the Ocean and Honeybit. 





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