The Lost Landscape by Joyce Carol Oates
Published by Fourth Estate
Published 8 September 2015
I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with a subtitle’. The subtitle is ‘a writer’s coming of age’.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
A momentous memoir of childhood and adolescence from one of our finest and most beloved writers, as we’ve never seen her before.
In The Lost Landscape, Joyce Carol Oates vividly recreates the early years of her life in western New York state, powerfully evoking the romance of childhood and the way it colours everything that comes after. From early memories of her relatives to remembrances of a particularly poignant friendship with a red hen, from her first friendships to her first experiences with death, The Lost Landscape is an arresting account of the ways in which Oates’s life (and her life as a writer) was shaped by early childhood and how her later work was influenced by a hard-scrabble rural upbringing.
In this exceptionally candid, moving, and richly reflective recounting of her early years, Oates explores the world through the eyes of her younger self and reveals her nascent experiences of wanting to tell stories about the world and the people she meets. If Alice in Wonderland was the book that changed a young Joyce forever and inspired her to look at life as offering endless adventures, she describes just as unforgettably the harsh lessons of growing up on a farm. With searing detail and an acutely perceptive eye, Oates renders her memories and emotions with exquisite precision to truly transport the reader to a bygone place and time, the lost landscape of the writer’s past but also to the lost landscapes of our own earliest, and most essential, lives.
WE BEGIN as children, imagining and fearing ghosts.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I’m an uber Joyce Carol Oates fan. I have loved her work since 2011 when I bought her story collection, High Lonesome on impulse on holiday in Paris. I am one of those fans who love reading about the lives of their favourite writers. So of course, I had to buy a copy of The Lost Landscape. I enjoy JCO’s non-fiction as well having read her other memoir, A Widow’s Story. I thought The Lost Landscape was fascinating, a real eye-opener. Although she’s one of my favourite writers I know little about her background. I feel I how her much better and love her writing that much more after reading this. I had no idea what kind of background she had. I really enjoyed The Lost Landscape and see JCO as a real person now rather than a writer I admire and to an extent, idolise. JCO is a master at showing not telling, in her fiction, poetry and non-fiction. I’d highly recommend this memoir.