Book Review

by Joyce Carol Oates

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Mystery, Anthology

RT Rating

Oates is a master of the unnerving, taking situations and characters to unexpectedly dark and violent places. The stories in this collection all concern the desire for love, and how destructive that desire becomes when it turns to obsession. All of the stories are strong, but “Split/Brain,” in which a woman plays out a dangerous situation in her head before deciding whether she will cause it to happen, and “Vena Cava,” about a war veteran debilitated in body and mind, will haunt readers for days.

The title story takes the form of a letter from an obsessive woman to the older man who betrayed her years ago; “Smother!” is about an unstable woman, estranged from her mother, starting to remember a childhood trauma. In “Strip Poker,” a young teenager must bluff her way out of an increasingly threatening situation with a group of older boys, and in "Bleeed", a young man's peripheral knowledge of sex and violence lead to a hopeless and dangerous confrontation. (HMH, Jan., 272 pp., $25.00)
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Reviewed By: Michelle Wiener

Publisher: HMH

Published: January 2010

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