I love me some Joyce Carol Oates. We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, Blackwater, Foxfire, the list really goes on and on and on, but those are some of my favorites. Oates is super prolific. And while she was born in 1938, which makes her 82. But seriously y’all, her books are just as amazing today as they were when she started publishing in 1963.
For some reason, the more awards someone has written, the less likely I am to necessarily want to read their books. It’s like a switch goes off and even though I know it’s going to be so good, it seems like school work or something (And I’ve been out of school for over 20 years.)
If your inclination is to feel this way about Oates’ work. Don’t. Fight it. Fight it with all of your being. Because you will be missing out. Cardiff by the Sea is a collection of Novellas that doesn’t disappoint. More on that later!
From the Publisher:
In the titular novella, an academic in Pennsylvania discovers a terrifying trauma from her past after inheriting a house in Cardiff, Maine from someone she has never heard of. Mia, the protagonist of “Miao Dao,” is a pubescent girl overcome with loneliness, who befriends a feral cat that becomes her protector from the increasingly aggressive males that surround her.
A brilliant but shy college sophomore realizes that she is pregnant in “Phan-tomwise: 1972.” Distraught, she allows a distinguished visiting professor to take her under his wing, though it quickly becomes evident that he is interested in more than an academic mentorship. Lastly, “The Surviving Child” is Stefan, who was spared when his mother, a famous poet, killed his sister and herself. Stefan’s father remarries, but his young wife is haunted by dead poet’s voice dancing in the wind, an inexplicably befouled well, and a compulsive draw to the same gar-age that took two lives.
In these psychologically daring, chillingly suspenseful pieces, Joyce Carol Oates writes about women facing threats past and present.
Cardiff, by the Sea was so good for my Haunting of Hill House, Ratched, Ruth Ware, B.A. Paris, The Conjuring love soul, I kept trying to slow myself down while I was reading it so that I could really savor the book. The book is a collection of novellas that are compulsively readable and definitely worth taking the time to really enjoy.
In the first book, the spotlight novella, we meet a disconnected young academic. She’s adopted and kind of a loner. Really, she just seems to lack verve for life. But, when she comes into an unexpected inheritance, she starts to learn for the first time in her life where she came from, and why she has such a hard time forming human connections.
The last three stories are just long enough to keep the ready thinking while the stories unfold in unlikely ways. Oates’ writing style is impeccable, even poetic at times. And while formal, still, someone very approachable.
If you love a good, dark, spooky tale. If you love a mystery that kind of still somewhat remains a mystery after the last page, this collection is for. Not every mystery can be quickly tied up with a bow. And sometimes, figuring out the mystery, leads to a much bigger one.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my review. This one is out now! Perfect for curling up with under a blanket on a dark and stormy night. Get your copy: