Reading Joyce Carol Oates

The Writer’s Almanac tells me that today is Joyce Carol Oates’ birthday, and that the book that had the most influence on her life and her writing was Alice in Wonderland. Oates is such a prolific writer and I was curious to see how many of her books I’ve actually read and heard of. The answer, not very many! I never knew that she wrote under a pseudonym, nor that she wrote children and YA fiction. Must read more. But first, back to trying to figure out modernity.


  • With Shuddering Fall (1964)
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967)
  • Expensive People (1968)
  • them (1969)
  • Wonderland (1971)
  • Do with Me What You Will (1973)
  • The Assassins: A Book of Hours (1975)
  • Childwold (1976)
  • Son of the Morning (1978)
  • Cybele (1979)
  • Unholy Loves (1979)
  • Bellefleur (1980)
  • Angel of Light (1981)
  • A Bloodsmoor Romance (1982)
  • Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984)
  • Solstice (1985)
  • Marya: A Life (1986)
  • You Must Remember This (1987)
  • American Appetites (1989)
  • Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1990)
  • Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang (1993) (the basis for the 1996 film Foxfire)
  • What I Lived For (1994)
  • Zombie (1995)
  • We Were the Mulvaneys (1996)
  • Man Crazy (1997)
  • My Heart Laid Bare (1998)
  • Broke Heart Blues (1999)
  • Blonde (2000)
  • Middle Age: A Romance (2001)
  • I’ll Take You There (2002)
  • The Tattooed Girl (2003)
  • The Falls (2004)
  • Missing Mom (2005)
  • Black Girl / White Girl (2006)
  • The Gravedigger’s Daughter (2007)
  • My Sister, My Love (2008)
  • Little Bird of Heaven (2009)
  • A Fair Maiden (2010)
  • The Crosswicks Horror (Forthcoming)

Short story collections

  • By the North Gate (1963)
  • Upon the Sweeping Flood And Other Stories (1966)
  • The Wheel of Love And Other Stories (1970)
    • How I Contemplated The World From The Detroit House Of Correction
    • Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?
  • Marriages and Infidelities (1972)
  • The Goddess and Other Women (1974)
  • The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies (1974)
  • The Poisoned Kiss And Other Stories from the Portuguese (1975)
  • The Seduction & Other Stories (1975)
  • Crossing the Border: Fifteen Tales (1976)
  • Night-Side (1977)
  • All the Good People I’ve Left Behind (1979)
  • A Sentimental Education: Stories (1980)
  • Last Days: Stories (1984)
  • Wild Saturday (1984)
  • Raven’s Wing: Stories (1986)
  • The Assignation: Stories (1989)
  • Oates In Exile (1990)
  • Heat And Other Stories (1991)
  • Where Is Here? (1992)
  • Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories (1993)
  • Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (1994)
  • I, the Juror (1995)
  • Demon and other tales (1996)
  • Will You Always Love Me? And Other Stories (1996)
  • The Collector of Hearts: New Tales of the Grotesque (1998)
  • Faithless: Tales of Transgression (2001)
  • I Am No One You Know: Stories (2004)
  • The Female of the Species: Tales of Mystery and Suspense (2006)
  • High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories, 1966-2006 (2006)
  • The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense (2007)
  • The Temple (1996)
  • Wild Nights! (2008)
  • Life After High School
  • Dear Husband, (2009)
  • Sour land: Stories, (2010)
  • Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense, (2011)

Novels as “Rosamond Smith”

  • Lives of the Twins (1987) (U.K. title: Kindred Passions)
  • Soul/Mate (1989)
  • Nemesis (1990)
  • Snake Eyes (1992)
  • You Can’t Catch Me (1995)
  • Double Delight (1997)
  • Starr Bright Will Be With you Soon (1999)
  • The Barrens (2001)

Novels as “Lauren Kelly”

  • Take Me, Take Me With You (2003)
  • The Stolen Heart (2005)
  • Blood Mask (2006)


  • The Triumph of the Spider Monkey (1976)
  • I Lock My Door Upon Myself (1990)
  • The Rise of Life on Earth (1991)
  • Black Water (1992)
  • First Love: A Gothic Tale (1996)
  • Beasts (2002)
  • Rape: A Love Story (2003)
  • The Corn Maiden : A Love Story (2005)


  • Miracle Play (1974)
  • Three Plays (1980)
  • In Darkest America (1991)
  • I Stand Before You Naked (1991)
  • Twelve Plays (1991) (including Black)
  • The Perfectionist and Other Plays (1995)
  • New Plays (1998)
  • Dr. Magic: Six One Act Plays (2004)

Essays and criticism

  • The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature (1972)
  • The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D.H. Lawrence (1974)
  • New Heaven, New Earth: The Visionary Experience in Literature (1974)
  • Contraries: Essays (1981)
  • The Profane Art: Essays & Reviews (1983)
  • On Boxing (1987)
  • (Woman) Writer: Occasions and Opportunities (1988)
  • George Bellows: American Artist (1995)
  • “They Just Went Away” 1995
  • Where I’ve Been, And Where I’m Going: Essays, Reviews, and Prose (1999)
  • The Faith of A Writer: Life, Craft, Art (2003)
  • Uncensored: Views & (Re)views (2005)
  • In Rough Country (2010)


  • Women In Love and Other Poems (1968)
  • Anonymous Sins & Other Poems (1969)
  • Love and Its Derangements (1970)
  • Angel Fire (1973)
  • The Fabulous Beasts (1975)
  • Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money (1978)
  • Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems, 1970-1982 (1982)
  • The Time Traveler (1989)
  • Tenderness (1996)
  • The Coming Storm (Forthcoming)

Young adult fiction

  • Big Mouth & Ugly Girl (2002)
  • Small Avalanches and Other Stories (2003)
  • Freaky Green Eyes (2003)
  • Sexy (2005)
  • After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away (2006)

Children’s fiction

  • Come Meet Muffin! (1998)
  • Where Is Little Reynard? (2003)


  1. I’ve never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s amazing since she is so prolific! I do have Blonde on my Fill In The Gaps list. Perhaps that will spur me to read more by her!


  2. Wow! I had no idea that she’d written so many books. I have only heard of about 5 of them. I haven’t read any of her books either, but I am planning to start out with We Were the Mulvaneys.


    1. Oh that’s a good one to start with! I was just reading an interview she gave in 2004 where she said: “I don’t feel I write fast. I write in longhand and do so much revision. On the page, it’s so old-fashioned. I could write a whole novel on scrap paper, scribbles and things. I keep looking at it and something develops. For me, using a word processor would mean staring at a screen for too many hours.”

      I wonder if she still does that today. Amazing.


  3. I swear, I don’t see how one woman has SO MANY stories floating around in her head. One of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of Beasts a friend of mine got for me when she spoke to his graduate class at Purdue.

    And you’ve just inspired my blog post for the day! Pop over to see it later.


  4. I’ve only read some of her novellas and some of her essays, most recently The Faith of a Writer. If only just borrowing them from the library and *thinking* about reading them counted: how impressive that would be! I really do want to read the Wonderland Quartet though. And The Falls has really tempted me: did you enjoy it?


    1. I’m quite interested in reading Oates’ non-fiction. How was The Faith of a Writer?

      The Falls: First I have to say that I read this on a computer. So not a good way of reading a book (didn’t really have a choice at that time though!). I remember really enjoying the way the book opened. It was quite a fascinating beginning but erm I don’t quite remember how it ended! Like I said, it might have had something to do with having read it on the computer!


  5. I’ve tried a few times to read JCO, but I haven’t had any luck so far. Given how many books she’s written I hope I get over my block, I certainly would have a lot to choose from.


  6. Faith of a Writer started slow for me, but I ended up taking quite a few notes. I also picked up a collection of conversations/interviews with her and found that both of these efforts made me want to read more of her fiction, but I do have a particular interest in reading about the craft of fiction to start with, and someone else might have found it a bit dull with so much talk of process.


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