Lovely, Dark, Deep

Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates
Published by Ecco Press
Published 9 September 2014
420 pages

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From the legendary literary master, winner of the National Book Award and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates, a collection of ten mesmerizing stories that maps the eerie darkness within us all.

Insightful, disturbing, imaginative, and breath-taking in their lyrical precision, the stories in Lovely, Dark, Deep display Joyce Carol Oates’s magnificent ability to make visceral the terror, hurt, and uncertainty that lurks at the edges of ordinary lives.

In “Mastiff,” a woman and a man are joined in an erotic bond forged out of terror and gratitude. “Sex with Camel” explores how a sixteen-year-old boy realizes the depth of his love for his grandmother—and how vulnerable those feelings make him. Fearful that that her husband is “disappearing” from their life, a woman becomes obsessed with keeping him in her sight in “The Disappearing.” “A Book of Martyrs” reveals how the end of a pregnancy brings with it the end of a relationship. And in the title story, the elderly Robert Frost is visited by an interviewer, an unsettling young woman, who seems to know a good deal more about his life than she should.

A piercing and evocative collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep reveals an artist at the height of her creative power.




Lovely, Dark, Deep is a great collection of stories which show JCO’s talents at their best.

SEX WITH CAMEL –One of my favourites, quit touching, I loved the relationship between the boy and his grandmother, they had great camaraderie. I liked it when he realised just how much she meant to him. In some ways, this was a sad story.

MASTIFF – The best story in the collection, I loved it, it unsettled me, I shared the woman’s apprehension when she first sees the dog and found later events shocking.

DISTANCE – The story I enjoyed the least in the collection but still pretty great.

A BOOK OF MARTYRS – My second favourite story, my heart went out to the woman who is having an abortion because her pregnancy is not convenient for her married lover though she never admits this. I wonder if this was a dry run for her novel A Book of American Martyrs.

STEPHANOS IS DEAD – Another favourite, I love how despite the title the story is not really about Stephanos at all but a woman struggling to hide her illness from the people around her.

THE HUNTER – Great story, dark and twisted like all great JCO stories.

THE DISAPPEARING – Another great story, JCO is great at writing stories about people on the edge of completely falling apart, the woman is intense and neurotic but sort of great.

THINGS PASSED ON THE WAY TO OBLIVION – Another favourite, I thought this was heart-breaking.

FORKED RIVER ROADSIDE SHRINE, SOUTH JERSEY – I was pleasantly surprised by this story, related by a recently deceased teenager who is less than impressed by the shrine made by his classmates at the scene of his death.

THE JESTERS – I liked this story though I wasn’t sure what to make of it, typical JCO fare with repressed characters going mental about nothing in particular. Genius.

BETRAYAL – Another gem, dark in a subtle way.

LOVELY, DARK DEEP – Another favourite, I wonder if Robert Frost was as horrible and obnoxious in real life? I love the way the woman really tore into him.

PATRICIDE – Another favourite, quite dark, I loved the way the story gradually twists towards the end and becomes something quite shocking.




One Comment Add yours

  1. cafereading says:

    Great review! 🙂 I’m gonna give this one a read now

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