Oates In Exile

Oates in ExileOates In Exile by Joyce Carol Oates
Published by Exile Editions
Published 1 May 1991
189 pages

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Oates in Exile is a collection of short stories, some classically shaped, and some in the form of miniature narratives – as Joyce Carol Oates has come to call her short, short fictions. These sixteen stories first appeared, over a period of fifteen years, in Exile, the literary quarterly published in Toronto. They have all her range of tone and temper, fugitive lives that seem so strange in the intense ordinariness, driven lives haunted by the insidious stillness of another ‘self’ – lives that always seem on the verge of eruption. These stories, even when close to reverie, are peopled by characters, one person in relation with another, and therefore they are always charged by drama, and give their oldest and boldest of pleasures, a tale well told.


They are sitting at opposite ends of the old horsehair sofa waiting for something to happen (ONE FLESH)


I found theses mostly very short stories hugely enjoyable, a fine example of JCO’s skill at writing great stories. There are very few writers as skilled as her. One of the best things about Oates in Exile is how the author manages to condense such complex, startling and often disturbing into to so few words and pages. A less skilled writer would have written stories two or three times the length of the ones found in this collection. Some of the stories are second reads and can be found in other collections. She has written rather a lot. I wasn’t bothered by this. It was like finding a dear old friend. Every stone in Oates in Exile shines. My favourites were One Flesh, Poor Lizzie, My Madman, An Old Fashioned Love Story and The Quarrel. I’d highly recommend this. One of her better earlier works.




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