If you’re looking for a book to match the dreary mood of autumn, and you aren’t afraid to look at life in fierce, intense ways, you might consider Sourland. This latest collection by the great Joyce Carol Oates gives us 16 stories that unflinchingly speak of violence – both physical and psychological.
The tales are full of rich details and observations told in such a calm, matter-of-fact manner that it is hard to look away from their horror. Be warned, this is not a book for the faint of heart.
As the stories build, the reader develops an imminent sense of dread for the characters, who don’t seem to see the horrors creeping up on them – widowhood, rape, abduction, and the twisted acts of internal cruelty we do to ourselves when we’re left alone.
However, throughout Sourland, there is a growing sense that perhaps the characters not only anticipate but are even almost masochistically expecting their fates.
Though the lives of the characters are unapologetically dark, the details and surroundings are described in beautiful ways. Despite its stern subject, Sourland is literary and eloquent.