Uncensored by Joyce Carol Oates
Views & (Re)views

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Synopsis

Uncensored: Views & (Re)views is Joyce Carol Oates's most candid gathering of prose pieces since (Woman) Writer: Occasions & Opportunities. Her ninth book of nonfiction, it brings together thirty-eight diverse and provocative pieces from the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New York Times Book Review.

Oates states in her preface, "In the essay or review, the dynamic of storytelling is hidden but not absent," and indeed, the voice of these "conversations" echoes the voice of her fiction in its dramatic directness, ethical perspective, and willingness to engage the reader in making critical judgments. Under the heading "Not a Nice Person," such controversial figures as Sylvia Plath, Patricia Highsmith, and Muriel Spark are considered without sentimentality or hyperbole; under "Our Contemporaries, Ourselves," such diversely talented figures as William Trevor, E. L. Doctorow, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Connelly, Alice Sebold, Mary Karr, Anne Tyler, and Ann Patchett are examined. In sections of "homages" and "revisits," Oates writes with enthusiasm and clarity of such cultural icons as Emily Brontë, Ernest Hemingway, Carson McCullers, Robert Lowell, Balthus, and Muhammad Ali ("The Greatest"); after a lapse of decades, she (re)considers the first film version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Americana, Don DeLillo's first novel, as well as the morality of selling private letters and the nostalgic significance of making a pilgrimage to Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond.

Through these balanced and illuminating essays we see Oates at the top of her form, engaged with forebears and contemporaries, providing clues to her own creative process: "For prose is a kind of music: music creates 'mood.' What is argued on the surface may be but ripples rising from a deeper, subtextual urgency."

 

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 October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 384 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Uncensored

Kirkus Reviews

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A grouping rather coyly titled “Not a Nice Person” includes understandably lukewarm considerations of the presently overrated Patricia Highsmith and the wildly uneven Sylvia Plath, a nicely reasoned defense of Willa Cather, and balanced assessments of Robert Penn Warren (whose classic All the Kin...

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The New York Times

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Reviewing the work of a fellow novelist is a means, at once generous and self-serving, of endorsing the notion that novels should continue to be written and, once written, read -- a notion usually defended with shamefaced piety.

Apr 17 2005 | Read Full Review of Uncensored: Views & (Re)views

The New York Times

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Reviewing the work of a fellow novelist is a means, at once generous and self-serving, of endorsing the notion that novels should continue to be written and, once written, read -- a notion usually defended with shamefaced piety.

Apr 17 2005 | Read Full Review of Uncensored: Views & (Re)views

Publishers Weekly

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She does not hesitate to expose the various contrivances of Patricia Highsmith, particularly as they pertain to the short story, for which, Oates suggests, Highsmith possessed ""perhaps little natural skill."" Similarly, Oates challenges Anita Brookner's solipsistic insistence that self-analysis ...

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Book Reporter

Why would anyone want to do anything as absurd as reviewing a book of book reviews?

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Uncensored: Views & (Re)views

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