A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates
A Memoir

77%

18 Critic Reviews

Oates' raw emotion lifts the veil of the enormity of grief that most widows, and widowers, must feel at the loss of their partners in a way that will come as a shock to some and a relief to others.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

Unlike anything Joyce Carol Oates has written before, A Widow’s Story is the universally acclaimed author’s poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of Raymond Smith, her husband of forty-six years, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath. A recent recipient of National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Oates, whose novels (Blonde, The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Little Bird of Heaven, etc.) rank among the very finest in contemporary American fiction, offers an achingly personal story of love and loss. A Widow’s Story is a literary memoir on a par with The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Calvin Trillin’s About Alice.

 

About Joyce Carol Oates

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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.
 
Published February 15, 2011 by HarperCollins e-books. 435 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 13 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A Widow's Story
All: 18 | Positive: 16 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Good
on Feb 17 2011

The voice that echoes most hauntingly in this patchwork of vivid scenes, memories, reflections and hallucinatory visions, with some letters and e-mails thrown in, belongs to a sleepless widow in a tangle of bedclothes...

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NY Times

Above average
on Feb 13 2011

But it is less fair for “A Widow’s Story” to dissemble while masquerading as a work of raw courage and honesty. A book long and rambling enough to contemplate an answering-machine recording could have found time to mention a whole new spouse.

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Guardian

Above average
on Mar 19 2011

This is a relentless and exhausting book, saturated by amorphous pain. In the 18th century women writers, then just entering literature, were mocked for trying to express extreme emotions through the typography of dashes, italics...

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Guardian

Good
on Mar 06 2011

This is one of the most compelling books I have read in a long time. One is with her, every inch of the way, as if her story were one's own.

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NPR

Good
on Jul 14 2011

One of the more remarkable aspects of A Widow's Story is her willingness to reveal the real Joyce Smith, as she calls herself, in all her fragile vulnerability, as distinct from "Joyce Carol Oates," the literary...

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NY Journal of Books

Good
on Feb 15 2011

...that “next” book is Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story, the spectacular memoir chronicling her husband’s abrupt passing and the loving life they shared.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by MEGANNE FABREGA on Feb 11 2011

Oates' raw emotion lifts the veil of the enormity of grief that most widows, and widowers, must feel at the loss of their partners in a way that will come as a shock to some and a relief to others.

Read Full Review of A Widow's Story: A Memoir | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Globe and Mail

Good
on Feb 18 2011

Oates's carnivorous prose style is well-suited to grief; her long sentences, slashed with em-dashes and bolted with exclamation points, her heavy sprinkling of italics, which sit on almost every page like tearstains - A widow must smile...

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
on Feb 09 2011

A Widow's Story is the painful, scorchingly angry journey of a woman struggling to live in a house "from which meaning has departed, like air leaking from a balloon."

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LA Times

Above average
on Feb 13 2011

For Oates...the key to coping with tragedy is to engage with it, to seek in the logic of language some of the order that has been stripped from daily life.

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The Washington Post

Good
on Feb 13 2011

...but this brave account of her recent grief seems composed with something close to abandon. It is as if Oates has decided, after the sudden death of her husband of 48 years, that her own inclination toward privacy is no longer important.

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The Telegraph

Good
on Apr 12 2011

There are memorable sentences on every page, little crystalline moments that leap out and stay imprinted in your mind for days afterwards. It’s an extraordinary piece of work – naked, unflinching and unforgettable.

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The Telegraph

Good
on Mar 10 2011

Oates’s tender account of her long marriage and her brief widowhood is raw, and doesn’t shrink from exposing the weakness, ugliness and selfishness of extreme grief, as well as its bitter comedy.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Good
on Feb 20 2011

This "handbook" on widowhood, as Oates calls it, is essential for anyone who has experienced loss. Whether detailing...Oates proves an utterly compelling protagonist. Her prose is gorgeous and precise.

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The Seattle Times

Above average
on Apr 14 2011

In a lesser writer's hands, the 88 short, disjointed chapters that form "A Widow's Story" might congeal into a confused mess. Oates, however, is fully in control — as a writer, heightened emotion is the essential ingredient in her work.

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Oregon Live

Above average
on Feb 19 2011

Oates, though, goes inward to the core of her grief, and it turns out to be quite an opportunity for her tool kit and palate for weirdness.

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About.com

Excellent

The overall emotion of this memoir is of poignancy, not of sorrow. We come away feeling that real life is worthwhile, after all. This is a book that many people will turn to in times of despair to find language for their deepest emotions.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Good
on Feb 28 2011

Oates has parsed the explosive, psychological lives of her fictional characters with laserlike precision in countless novels and short stories. In her astonishingly candid A Widow's Story: A Memoir, she turns inward with equally brutal intensity.

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Reader Rating for A Widow's Story
73%

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