To their uncomprehending parents they were just ‘crazy kids’ shoplifting, staying out all night, hanging around with weird friends. But for Connie, Alex, Tessa and the others nothing was more urgent than finding out what life held in store uniquely for them. Impatient of repressive parents, bored by the rituals of their suburban homes, they wanted to try out their own dreams for real.
All too often they become causalities of their own rebellion. Connie’s daydreams about boys end in the nightmare of rape. Dorie, mooning over her college professor, finds herself locked in a sterile marriage with him. Yet no one can deny them the validity of their experience. As Joyce Carol Oates writes of Dorie, ‘she was herself and that was a fact, a final fact she would never overcome’.
Joyce Carol Oates is perhaps at her very best in the short story. Here, with honesty and compassion, she encapsulates the experience of a whole generation of American youth.
[Her name was Connie – WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?]
(Everyman Fiction, 1 May 1984, owned)
I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with a month or day of the week in the title’.
The stories in this collection are some of JCO’s earliest ones and appear in numerous collections so I’ve read most of them a few times.
I was tempted to give this collection a lower rating because there is no new material here. JCO fans will have read these stories numerous times.
However, the stories themselves are among her best so I had to give the collection a higher rating:
WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN: One of JCO’s best stories, and my personal favourite. This has been reprinted more than any of her other stories. It’s what is not said that makes this story disturbing.
ACCOMLISHED DESIRES: Another great story, with plenty of shades of dark and a sinister overtone.
WILD SATURDAY: One of the best in collection with a dramatic turn of events at the end that left me reeling.
BOY AND GIRL: Of the weakest in the collection but still a good read.
DEMONS: Another great story with sinister overtones.
A GIRL AT THE EDGE OF THE OCEAN: One of the strongest in the collection and I love the title as well.
STRAY CHILDREN: The only story I haven’t read before. I loved it. Another disturbing little tale.
IN THE REGION OF ICE: One of my all-time favourites of JCO’s stories. I love the title as well. This story is also unsettling.
HOW I CONTEMPLTED THE WORLD FROM THE DETROIT HOUSE OF CORRECTION AND VEGAN MY LIFE OVER AGAIN: My least favourite story in the collection, but still a good story. This is different than other versions I’ve read.