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Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and…
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Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Joyce Carol Oates is never bad, but when an author is as prolific as she is, they can't all be gems. I look forward to her gothic work with real relish, so I might have set my expectations a little high for this one. Unfortunately, it doesn't compare to her excellent Collector of Hearts or Haunted. These stories are more like novellas, and while they are dramatic and interesting in their own right, I would call them mostly drama of one kind or another--not mystery and suspense. It simply didn't hold my interest--possibly because these stories weren't what I was looking for or expecting. ( )
  TheBentley | Nov 14, 2013 |
I've been trying to figure out the best way to break into Joyce Carol Oates – that is, what would be the best novel, what would be the best writing, what would be the best experience to determine if I would enjoy what she has to offer. When I came across this collection of stories, I figured it represented as good an approach as any.

And so after reading, I can strongly say that I am, well, I am still searching. That is, the collection was good. All well written with some images that have stuck with me. For Example, the story "Strip Poker" was uncomfortable and one I didn't necessarily enjoy, but the images and the power of the story still sit with me. Similarly, the story "Smother" – more enjoyable – and concepts and images that still, vaguely, haunt. (I have given no synopses to these stories. By the nature of the collection ["tales of mystery and suspense], these are stories that a synopsis will either spoil or do absolutely no justice.)

On the one hand, these were stories that were interesting enough for me to want to explore more of Oates' work. But not blindingly impacting me to the point where I am begging more.

But that all comes off much more downbeat than this collection deserves. It is good. As I've indicated there are images and concepts and writing that, when I look through the collection, come back to me with fullness. It is a collection worth reading. I just wonder if I expected more (such a long search to try and determine what to read) and that build up led to this minor let down.

And, to be honest, I feel I am going to have to come back to this collection again – reread because I think there is much more here than I have given credit for. ( )
  figre | Aug 29, 2013 |
(One of a number of books I found for dirt cheap in the Borders meltdown. Depressingly, there were a number of copies still available. But it was heartening to see large quantities of books by Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin massively discounted and unsold.)

For several reasons, I enjoyed this book less as I worked my way through it. For one thing, I started it while on vacation by the lake and finished it on a crowded El train. But I also read Andrea Thompson’s “meh” review and, while I don’t think of myself as being easily swayed by reading reviews, who knows--maybe I am. My favorite stories are the opening titular one (in the form of a nasty, vaguely threatening, angry letter) and the fourth one, “Strip Poker.” (I walked my wife briefly through the plot of “Strip Poker” and told her it had really inspired me. “You mean as a writer?” she said. “No,” I said, “as a father who’s going to beat the ass of anyone who messes with my little girl.”) But there is a sameness to some of the others: the internal workings of a killer’s mind, repeated phrases, italics, confusion. And though Thompson was wrong about the two stories I mentioned, this bit from her review did stick out to me, “[T]here’s little doubt that Oates is a well-practiced storyteller. Too well practiced, perhaps: the impact…tends to be more mechanical than visceral.” Though often extremely hard to read, I did start to wonder how many of these stories were “necessary.” ( )
  numbernine | Apr 4, 2013 |
A strange and dark set of stories. Some better than others, all somewhat ambiguous. ( )
  pidgeon92 | Apr 1, 2013 |
This collection of short stories is more than a little disturbing, all the more so since they take place in everyday life and not some dark, shadowy forest or a deserted haunted house.

Oates tells most of the stories in the first person, several from the neurotic viewpoints of the "perpetrators." Most of the main characters are female and several teen girls are in precarious situations with older men. The main themes throughout the collection are love/lust, seeking love, trying to keep love, and the crimes people commit in the name of love/lust.

I wouldn't call the stories mysteries (the reader knows who does what), but they are suspenseful. I wanted to know how each ended. However, Oates did not provide closure. Most of the stories either just stopped or fizzled out with no clear conclusion. ( )
  bohemiangirl35 | Dec 24, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547385463, Hardcover)

An Otto Penzler Book

The need for love—obsessive, self-destructive, unpredictable—takes us to forbidden places, as in the chilling world of Give Me Your Heart, a new collection of stories by the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates.

In the suspenseful “Strip Poker,” a reckless adolescent girl must find a way of turning the tables on a gathering of increasingly threatening young men—Can she “outplay” them? In the award-winning “Smother!” a young woman’s nightmare memory of childhood brings trouble on her professor-mother—Which of them will “win”? In “Split/Brain” a woman who has blundered into a lethal situation confronts the possibility of saving herself—Will she take it? In “The First Husband,” a jealous man discovers that his wife seems to have lied about her first marriage, and exacts a cruel revenge, years after the fact. In these and other powerful tales, children veer beyond their parents’ control, wives and husbands wake up to find that they hardly know each other, haunted pasts intrude upon uncertain futures, and those who bring us the most harm may be the nearest at hand.

In ten razor-sharp stories, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates shows that the most deadly mysteries often begin at home.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A new collection of stories by National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates. In the suspenseful "Strip Poker," a reckless adolescent girl must find a way of turning the tables on a gathering of increasingly threatening young men. Can she outplay them? In the award-winning "Smother!" a young woman's nightmare memory of childhood brings trouble on her professor-mother. Which of them will win? In "Split/Brain" a woman who has blundered into a lethal situation confronts the possibility of saving herself. Will she take it? In "The First Husband," a jealous man discovers that his wife seems to have lied about her first marriage, and exacts a cruel revenge, years after the fact. In these and other powerful tales, children veer beyond their parents' control, wives and husbands wake up to find that they hardly know each other, haunted pasts intrude upon uncertain futures, and those who bring us the most harm may be the nearest at hand.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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