Book Review: By The North Gate by Joyce Carol Oates

by the north gate

By The North Gate by Joyce Carol Oates

Fawcett Crest Books (paperback), 1971

208 Pages


By the North Gate is a collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. It was the author’s first book, first published by Vanguard Press in 1963.


The grandfather still lived alone in his log cabin, a ramshackle eyesore that the children and the children’s children, no longer cared to joke about (SWAMPS) 



This was my first read-through of By The North Gate, JCO’s first collection of short stories and her first full-length publication. Overall, I thought this was a strong collection. The stories were strong, well-written and engaging for the most part. A Legacy and The Expense of Sprit were the only stories I thought didn’t work. By The North Gate is a good example of what kind of writer JCO would develop into.

SWAMPS: Great little story, very touching in places.

THE CENUS TAKER: I found this story quite disturbing.

CEREMONIES: This story is very enjoyable and had a few sad moments.

SWEET LOVE REMEMBERED: Another nice tale.

BOYS AT A PICNIC: Another story with disturbing undertones.

AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE BLIND: This was a good story, disturbing in places.

IMAGES: I enjoyed this story and liked the way it was structured in a series of time shifts.

EDGE OF THE WORLD: Another good tale.

A LEGACY: I thought this was okay but a little weaker than other stories in the collection.

IN THE OLD WORLD: An enjoyable, engaging tale.

THE FINE WHITE MIST OF WINTER: I really enjoyed this story and love the title.

THE EXPENSE OF SPIRIT: I thought this was just okay.

BY THE NORTH GATE: A really good story to close on.




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