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The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

The Falls (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Joyce Carol Oates

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Title:The Falls
Authors:Joyce Carol Oates
Info:ecco (2004), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates (2004)


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English (36)  Swedish (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All (44)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Finally, a Joyce Carol Oates book that I could finish and not hate the characters. Finally Joyce Carol Oates creates characters that handle their grief and shame in ways that many people do. Finally a Joyce Carol Oates book that has women characters who aren't weirdos.

I have read a couple of JCO titles in the past and had come to the conclusion that she was an author of overwrought prose who secretly hated women and needed to write fiction in order to vent her spleen. This novel was different. At first, I thought, here I go again, down the only road JCO knows, but as soon as Dirk Burnaby came into the novel things changed for the better and then the history and story of the early days of the Love Canal catastrophe captured my attention. From there it was a book that I couldn't wait to get to on my daily commutes. I believe that the author uses Niagara Falls as a way to explore suicide, unexpected death and its accompanying shock and grief. Even though the novel also explores environmental disaster, the primary theme is grief. In this novel, Ariah Burnaby is married and widowed on the same day. Since she is a spinster this is a great humiliation as well as a shock. Then she meets Dirk Burnaby and finds happiness. Until, he becomes involved in a serious litigation - the Love Canal case. Tradgey strikes Ariah again. How she deals with this grief comprises the rest of the novel. She completely closes off herself and her family from any contact with their past and creates a cocoon of illusion around "her family." This is a state of affairs with which her children have to find their way. And it ain't easy. In the end, I discovered a novel by JCO that I actually liked, filled with a family that found a way to grow and become something in the face of great tragedy.

The recorded version of this novel was spare but effective. The narrator did a fine job of varying her voice that helped to differentiate the characters for the listener. ( )
  benitastrnad | May 13, 2017 |
Yes, it's a bit overwrought. I suspect Joyce Carol Oates of writing overwrought grocery lists. Nonetheless, it's one of her better more recent efforts and I did enjoy it quite a bit. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Personal tragedy mirrors the environmental tragedy of Niagara Falls. The author depicts the boom to bust exploitation of Niagara Falls people and natural resources perfectly. ( )
  FLXobsv | Sep 6, 2015 |
The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates
A woman wakes up on the first day of her honeymoon, a widow. One of the darkest ladies of letters strikes again. The real protagonist of this meandering hell is Niagara Falls. Oates captures everything about the falls in her prose and effectively transports the reader to this Mecca of tourists and suicides. You can smell the falls, hear them, look into their depths, and above all, wish you were there. The question on the lips of everyone at the beginning of this book is, "why would anyone commit suicide?" Joyce Carol Oates commences to provide many possible reasons for this. At the end of the book the question has become, "How do so many people survive?"
Recommended by Geo, July 2005
  dawsong | Jun 12, 2015 |
I love JCO! Great story, similar to We Were the Mulvaney's. Historical fiction of the Niagara Falls area and the corruption and pollution that resulted in Love Canal in the 1970's. ( )
  mojomomma | Mar 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oates, Joyce Carolprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Den grymma skönheten hos Fallen / Som ropar till dig... / Ge upp! - M. L. Trau, "The Ballad of the Niagara", 1931
To Nancy Van Goethem and Larry Joseph
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At the time unknown, unnamed, the individual who was to throw himself into the Horseshoe falls appeared to the gatekeeper of the Goat Island Suspension Bridge at approximately 6:15 am.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060722290, Paperback)

It is 1950 and, after a disastrous honeymoon night, Ariah Erskine's young husband throws himself into the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. Ariah, "the Widow Bride of the Falls," begins a relentless seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side is confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby, who is unexpectedly drawn to her. What follows is a passionate love affair, marriage, and family -- a seemingly perfect existence. But tragedy soon takes over their lives, poisoning their halcyon years with distrust, greed, and murder.

Set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-twentieth century, this haunting exploration of the American family in crisis is a stunning achievement from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation).

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Story of the powerful spell Niagara Falls casts upon two generations of a family, leading to tragedy, love, loss, and, ultimately, redemption. A man climbs over the railings and plunges into Niagara Falls. A newlywed, he has left behind his wife Ariah in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding. The widow begins a vigil in the mist, waiting for his body to be found. At her side throughout, confirmed bachelor and pillar of the community Dirk Burnaby is unexpectedly transfixed by the strange, otherworldly gaze of this plain, strange woman, falling in love with her though they barely exchange a word. What follows is their passionate love affair, marriage, and children, a seemingly perfect existence. But the tragedy by which their life together began shadows them, damaging their idyll with distrust, greed, and even murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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