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A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce…

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

by Joyce Carol Oates

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4593322,646 (3.66)1 / 32

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I make a habit of not reading memoirs, especially of 'famous' people - I find them rather personal, too personal, and takes such a deep look into someone who I've never met that it makes me uncomfortable as a reader - but since Joyce Carol Oates is my writing heroine, I felt compelled to pick up her memoir of life after the death of her husband, Raymond Smith. I am glad I did, or as glad as anyone can to read such a story of grief and life after death. In her usual vivid prose, Oates pulls us into the world of the widow, a world marked by absence and the burden of living on after one's significant other has passed away. Oates does not try to romanticize her experiences or comfort the reader with pulled punches; this is a work marked with emotion from start to finish without any pretense about what it is about - death, dying, loss, grief, and a culture that would rather sweep it all under the rug than look these undeniable truths in the eye. There are memoirs are then there is A Widow's Story. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one and known what it is like to live a second life after death, this is for you. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
Skimmed through this book. I felt, to the degree that skimming will allow, how the author lived through her husband's death and her acceptance of the immense change that ultimately came to her life. ( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
A Widow's Story describes Joyce Carol Oates' struggle to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century.
  CommunityResources | Dec 20, 2016 |
Oates book is a help for people like me who can't understand overwhelming grief, When her husband died at age 77 Oates was overcome by grief. At times I wanted to say "Get Over It." and yet her insight as to what it was like helped me to see someone else's world. Yes, it was definitely self-centered grief. Her honesty in talking about suicidal thoughts, how others didn't understand, and the overwhelming burden of paperwork, as well as well intentioned depression and sleeping medications was at times hard to read. I did relish the fact that she overcame her grief by turning to daily jobs, like continuing Ray's garden. ( )
  brangwinn | Dec 20, 2013 |
Okay....this book reminded me so much of Joan Didion's "A Year of Magical Thinking", and I discovered the similarities in the first few pages of the book. The two are so similar in many ways..they are both authors, they were both married to authors, and they both wrote a book mourning the loss of their husband. The process of writing and publishing their book helped with their grief.

I have never read Oates' fictions, so I have no idea what her writing style is. In Didion's book I found grief, but also strength, lots of selflessness, and persistence. In this book, I found grief, hysteria, helplessness, complaints (all about others, including her dead husband), lots self pity, and too many exclamation marks... ( )
  lovestampmom | Aug 8, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Brutal violence and catastrophic loss are often the subjects of Oates' powerful novels and stories. But as she reveals in this galvanizing memoir, her creative inferno was sequestered from her joyful life with her husband, Raymond Smith. A revered editor and publisher who did not read her fiction, Smith kept their household humming during their 48-year marriage. After his shocking death from a secondary infection while hospitalized with pneumonia, Oates found herself in the grip of a relentless waking nightmare. She recounts this horrific siege of grief from epic insomnia and terrifying hallucinations to the torment of death-duties, and a chilling evaporation of meaning. But Oates also rallies to offer droll advice on how to be a good widow. Oates has created an illuminating portrait of a marriage, a searing confrontation with death, an extraordinarily forthright chronicle of mourning. Her memoir of sudden widowhood will have an impact similar to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005).
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Donna Seaman (Mar 18, 2013)
novelistic and expansive, switching between first and third persons, seeking to objectify herself as `the widow' ... mainly focused on the dark interiors, the psycho-chaos of grief.
added by KayCliff | editNew York Review of Books, Julian Barnes (Apr 7, 2011)
This book’s timeline includes the facts that Mr. Smith died on Feb. 18, 2008, less than a month before his 78th birthday, and that it took Ms. Oates more than a year and a half to remove his voice from their telephone answering machine. It does not say that by the time he had been dead for 11 months, Ms. Oates was happily engaged to Dr. Charles Gross, the professor of neuroscience who became her second husband in 2009.

How delicately must we tread around this situation?...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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Joyce Carol Oates shares her struggle to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century.

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