High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread

Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals—a brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subway—in the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated.

In the title story “High Crime Area,” a white, aspiring professor is convinced she is being followed. No need to panic, she has a handgun stowed away in her purse—just in case. But when she turns to confront her black, male shadow, the situation isn’t what she expects. In “The Rescuer,” a promising graduate student detours to inner city Trenton, New Jersey to save her brother from a downward spiral. But she soon finds out there may be more to his world than to hers. And in “The Last Man of Letters,” the world-renowned author X embarks on a final grand tour of Europe. He has money, fame, but not a whole lot of manners. A little thing like etiquette couldn’t bring a man like X down, could it?

In these biting and beautiful stories, Oates confronts, one by one, the demons within us. Sometimes it’s the human who wins, and sometimes it’s the demon.


[Early shift is 6:30 AM which was when I arrived at the elder care facility at Eau Claire where I have been an orderly for two years (THE HOME AT CRAIGMILLAR)


(Head of Zeus, 4 December 2014, owned)




This collection contains new stories I’ve never read before. This makes a nice change as the last few collections I’ve read have contained stories reprinted many times in other collections. I liked having some fresh stories by one of my favourite authors.

This is a strong collection of stories and I thoroughly enjoyed them, with the exception of a couple that were weaker.

THE HOME AT CRAIGMILLNAR: A great way to start this collection, dark, unsettling and with a great twist.

HIGH: Unexpected and brilliant, happy and sad, ticks all the boxes.

TOAD-BABY: This didn’t work for me.

DEMON: Another crafty, disturbing, macabre work of art.

LORELI: I liked the premise of the story but the first person narrative doesn’t work.

THE RESCUER: The best story in the collection, more like a novella, riveting, dark and unforgettable.

THE LAST MAN OF LETTERS: Another of my favourites, darker than I expected.

HIGH CRIME AREA: This story took a very unexpected turn and I loved it.



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