A Look at Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates was born on June 16, 1938. She has reached literary acclaim through her novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her largest achievement was receiving the National Book Award for her novel, Them.

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Oates grew up in Lockport, New York, living a farm life that has been repeatedly described as a tough upbringing. She was said to have found her solace in the written word and in her love of writing. Starting young, she developed the writing skills needed throughout her formative years to reach acclaim as an adult. She received her first typewriter as a gift from her parents in her teens; they continued to show her support for wanting to be a writer as she continued to write through high school and college.

Her hard work payed off, and she was attended Syracuse University on scholarship and, in 1960, graduated as the valedictorian. Only three years later, in 1963, she released her first story collection By North Gate.

Throughout her career, she continues to put herself in her stories with an incomprehensible depth. When events such as her husband Raymond Smith’s death in 2008 occurred, she put all of her pain and loss in her short stories. This culminated in her work of short stories called The Widow’s Story.

In 2014, her work Lovely, Dark, Deep was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction. Even today, she is seen a prolific writer (published over forty books), whose legacy has been carved in stone years ago, keeps amazing readers with new works like A Book of American Martyrs published February 2017 and Dis Mem Ber and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense forthcoming June 2017. Alan Cheuse of NPR once said the following of Oates while reviewing the said work,

She writes about both men and women, ordinary people and professional people, Easterners and country

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folk, the unloved, those caught up in the web of first love, the married, and the bereaved, families with children, widows, the famous, the gifted but underrated, celebrities and those who toil away at their lives in obscurity. Where Balzac wanted to give his readers Paris in its entirety, Joyce Carol Oates has dared to give her readers an entire country — our own.”

Today, at the age of 87 her work still has the ability to reach into the minds of all sorts of people in all walks of life. You can tell that short story collections seemed to be her great love. Despite her age, she is able to not only still relate to readers of all ages in them but also finds the root of the human experience and express it in such a way that it’s hard to feel alone while reading her stories.

If you wish to delve further into her expansive work of short story collections, feel free to visit Celestial Time Piece for a complete list!