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A Widow's Story: A Memoir

by Joyce Carol Oates

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5713731,274 (3.74)1 / 35
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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English (36)  German (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
Love the stories of her memories, and also feels like a privilege to be let into her grief journey. Long though. ( )
  kate_r_s | Oct 29, 2018 |
Enjoyable? No. But this account of Oates' raw grief following the loss of her husband of nearly fifty years wasn't meant to entertain. At a writer's workshop, a professor once said that a good writer "bled out on the page." She certainly did that, and she is to be forgiven a certain repetitiveness for, as she noted in the narrative, each day became an space of time to be survived, and inherently repetitious.
  turtlesleap | Sep 15, 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 (Fourth Estate, 2012, £8.99).
  LibraryPAH | Jul 27, 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joyce Carol Oatesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Buzzard, MadelynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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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