"Like most important writers—Joyce, Proust, Mann—she has an absolute identification with her material: the spirit of a society at a crucial point in its history."—Walter Clemens, NewsweekSelected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the most notable books of 1991, Joyce Carol Oates's The Rise of Life on Earth is a memorable portrait of one of the "insulted and injured" of American society. Set in the underside of working-class Detroit of the '60s and '70s, this short, lyric novel sketches Kathleen Hennessy's violent childhood—shattered by a broken home, child-beating, and murder—and follows her into her early adult years as a hospital health-care worker. Overworked, underpaid, and quietly overzealous, Kathleen falls in love with a young doctor, whose exploitation of her sets the course of the remainder of her life, in which her passivity masks a deep fury and secret resolve to take revenge.
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Kathleen's father is imprisoned for Nola's murder, while Kathleen is placed in a dreary foster home where her half-forgotten memories of having pounded Nola's head against the edge of a mattress frame to stop her crying are buried beneath a passive, shy, obedient persona that appeals to her harri...| Read Full Review of The Rise of Life on Earth
National Book Award winner Oates's ( Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart ) tightly-focused novella features a disturbed woman who enjoys the ambience of hospitals. (Sept.)Sep 14 1992 | Read Full Review of The Rise of Life on Earth
As the novel's refrain establishes, evil cannot touch her because ``one memory cancels out another.'' As an adult, Kathy outwardly seems a dedicated nurse's aide with an appetite for teen fiction (e.g., Nurse Darlene's First Year ) but shows a disturbing penchant for torrid sexual acts, which she...| Read Full Review of The Rise of Life on Earth
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