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them by Joyce Carol Oates
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Joyce Carol Oates' "them" is a really engrossing novel, with so many layers that I think I would get even more out of it if I read it a second time.

The novel is set mainly in the slums of Detroit, following three members of the Wendall family -- Loretta and two of her children, Jules and Maureen from the 1930's to the 1960's. They live a rather downtrodden and poverty stricken life, and it's interesting to see where the years take them.

Oates' look the family was all the more interesting given her author's note indicating this story was based on people she knew.... (which she later says was just a literary device.) I liked the "us" vs. "them" set up, and how the title applies in so many ways -- to women, to the poor, to the Wendall family. Overall, this is a great book. ( )
  amerynth | Nov 5, 2015 |
Her first hit book. I enjoyed her later ones more. ( )
  S_Trenti | Jul 11, 2015 |
The first (and my very all-time favorite) of many of her books that I've read, in the 80s no less...even had her sign my old, torn, used-up copy at a Book Fair, in Vermont!...her characters live and breathe, she inhabits their very souls...truly a masterful storyteller...G. ( )
  Gemma. | Apr 26, 2013 |
I finished this novel yesterday. I have always been curious about Oates, who looks so characteristically novelistic in her promotional photos, and who is so very productive. I bought this leather bound edition of one of her first novels, and I always feel obligated to read my purchases. I sped through much of the book; I am interested in the story and characters, and want to see what happens, but I get tired of endless descriptions of the character's floating, dreamlike emotional states. I wish someone would have been rational and less random and emotionally driven. Jules is a bum and a murderer, but always dreamy and uncertain. Maureen has some plans, but is seductively evil, and Loretta is hopelessly irritating. I hung on for the 590 pages of this edition, but found the riot description at the end to be an afterthought, without much to do with the characters, other than to locate them in time and space. I think the prose is excellent, and would read Oates again. ( )
  neurodrew | Apr 15, 2013 |
Excellent very layered and nuanced book. Reminds me of the Studs Lonnigan triology, except set in Detroit. So far, I am an ardent fan of this quartet and this is a worthwhile and equal addition; however, don't know that it stands out as the singular "best" of the quartet. Most inline with Garden of Earthly Delights. ( )
  RDHawk6886 | Jun 11, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
She focuses on story, with a style that cajoles the reader by regularly switching viewpoints within single paragraphs. The art is almost invisible. Her style allows the reader to focus on story without the intrusion of unfamiliar language, so artfully done, an exercise in event, an adventure in domestic darkness.
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...because we are poor Shall we be vicious? -- The White Devil -- John Webster
For my husband, Raymond
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One warm evening in August 1937 a girl in love stood before a mirror.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345484401, Paperback)

Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. As powerful and relevant today as it on its initial publication, them chronicles the tumultuous lives of a family living on the edge of ruin in the Detroit slums, from the 1930s to the 1967 race riots. Praised by The Nation for her “potent, life-gripping imagination,” Oates traces the aspirations and struggles of Loretta Wendall, a dreamy young mother who is filled with regret by the age of sixteen, and the subsequent destinies of her children, Maureen and Jules, who must fight to survive in a world of violence and danger.

Winner of the National Book Award, them is an enthralling novel about love, class, race, and the inhumanity of urban life. It is, raves The New York Times, “a superbly accomplished vision.”

Them is the third novel in the Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and Wonderland, are also available from the Modern Library.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"A novel about class, race, and the horrific, glassy sparkle of urban life, them chronicles the lives of the Wendalls, a family on the steep edge of poverty in the windy, riotous Detroit slums. Loretta, beautiful and dreamy and full of regret by age sixteen, and her two children, Maureen and Jules, make up Oates' vision of the American fam-ily--broken, marginal, and romantically proud. The novel's title, pointedly uncapitalized, refers to those Americans who inhabit the outskirts of society--men and women, mothers and children--whose lives many authors in the 1960s had left unexamined. Alfred Kazin called her subject "the sheer rich chaos of American life." The Nation wrote, "When Miss Oates' potent, life-gripping imagination and her skill at narrative are conjoined, as they are preeminently in them, she is a prodigious writer." -- publisher discription (September 2006).… (more)

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