Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Museum of Dr. Moses by Joyce Carol Oates

Having mentioned several times lately that Joyce Carol Oates has been one of the major influence on my own writing, I thought it was about time to post another review of one of her works.

The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
by Joyce Carol Oates
(c) 2007
An Otto Penzler Book Harcourt, Inc.
229p

These chilling tales examine the intersection of innocence and evil both within the human heart and in the interactions between them. They range in length from just 3 pages (Stripping) to nearly 60 (The Man Who Fought Roland LaStarza).and in style from the breathless single sentence in omniscient POV of the 5 page Hi! Howya Doin! to the somewhat clinical reportage through a single POV of the 40 odd page title story, The Museum of Dr. Moses.

No two match in style and yet I recognize Joyce Carol Oates touch in every one. It is in the willingness to look horror straight on without either flinching or being mesmerized. A willingness not always imparted to the characters. A willingness the reader acquires heartbeat by heartbeat as sentence by sentence they are lured into the heart of the story whereupon it is too late to refuse to look. You could stop reading, but you have already seen and one way or another must process the disturbing dreamscape of the human heart presented therein.

The stories:

Hi! Howya Doin!
--an annoying jogger encounters another with an intolerance for annoyance

Suicide Watch
--a father questions his son, an inmate of a psyche ward, on the whereabouts of his two year old grandson. An especially disturbing story in light of recent headlines.

The Man Who fought Roland LaStarza
--a daughter's nostalgic memories of her childhood are shredded by the disturbing revelations of her dying father

Valentine, July heat Wave
--a possessive husband prepares a macabre gift for his estranged wife

Bad Habits
--the children of a notorious serial killer attempt to make sense out of the senseless

Feral
--a beloved only son, a sweet tempered loving child, nearly drowns and undergoes a chilling transformation

The Hunter
--chronicles of a serial killer

The Twins: A Mystery
--the twin sons of a calculating scientist whose article of faith is survival of the fittest are pitted against each other

Stripping
--a gruesome shower scene

The Museum of Dr. Moses
--a daughter attempts to rescue her mother from the lair of her controlling husband

0 tell me a story:

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