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A Widow's Story: A Memoir by Joyce…

A Widow's Story: A Memoir

by Joyce Carol Oates

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4223025,093 (3.65)1 / 31
  1. 00
    The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both are autobiographical accounts of the writer's first year of widowhood.
  2. 00
    You'll Get Over It by Virginia Ironside (KayCliff)
  3. 00
    Selective Memory by Katharine Whitehorn (KayCliff)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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 |
Strangely written and difficult to read Did Not Finish ( )
  LindaGail | Jul 21, 2013 |
Thank you Joyce Smith for the much needed bibliotherapy. ( )
  librarian1204 | Apr 26, 2013 |
Wow, JCO! I just hardly know what to say here. The honesty and openness with your emotions and feelings is raw. Painful. Dark. And repetitive. I ached for you, I really did but the method you used for telling this story grated. This third person "the widow" device was bizarre and, for me, detracted from the flow and feeling. Also, I was mostly creeped out that you still refer to your (deceased) father as "Daddy". Maybe this wasn't a good time for me to read this memoir of yours, as I seem to be nit-picky about the book, questioning. I am glad you got through this time and very happy you seem to be surrounded by wonderful friends. Friends can make all the difference. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (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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