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With Shuddering Fall: A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, 13 March 2018
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The first novel from New York Times-bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates, a thrilling, dark tale of family, revenge, and two souls intertwined by love and violence -- now back in print for fans of America's most prolific storyteller.
Written when Joyce Carol Oates was in her early twenties, and first published in 1964, With Shuddering Fall is her powerful debut novel, the first of five new Oates reprints from Ecco.
Following the turbulent story of two lovers who discover themselves mortal enemies, the author explores the struggle for dominance in erotic relationships that has become a predominant theme in her work, as well as the perils of patriarchal inheritance, and the ripple-effects of emotional loss in adolescence. The result is an unsentimental yet sympathetic rendering of a disastrous love affair in which hatred is nearly as powerful as love, and a yearning for destruction is an abiding and insatiable passion.
Discover what prompted the New York Times to compare this young writer's debut to Shirley Jackson's famous short story, ''The Lottery.'' Readers looking for a place to start in Joyce Carol Oates's vast catalogue will be intrigued by the sheer narrative force of the young author, and her willingness to anatomize the darkest recesses of humanity in a search for redemption and resolution.
About the Author
- Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged AUDIO edition (13 March 2018)
- Language : English
- Audio CD : 1 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1538501791
- ISBN-13 : 978-1538501795
- Dimensions : 14.48 x 2.79 x 14.48 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
I really did not like the 2 main characters at all, though I found them and their relationship intriguing. I read this really quickly because I had to try and figure out what made these 2 tick. I never really got a complete answer, but that happens often when I read JCO. She makes me figure out a lot myself. Which I prefer to a neatly wrapped-up story with a clear, finite resolution.
If you are a JCO fan, you must have this in your collection. If you are just discovering her, I wouldn't start here as this is not fully indicative of her immense talent at storytelling. But it certainly is an interesting look at where she started.
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Pub. Year: 1964
It was such a joy to find Joyce Carol Oates’ debut novel, “With Shuddering Fall.” She is an all-time favorite author of mine. Written in 1964, when the author was in her mid-twenties, the novel does not disappoint. In a previous review of “Night-Gaunts,” 2018, I wrote that a recurring theme in her work is the abuse of women, as portrayed in “Do With Me What You Will,” 1973, “We Were the Mulvaneys,” 2002, “The Gravedigger's Daughter,” 2007, “Blonde: A Novel, 2009,” “The Sacrifice”, 2016. I have read them all. They are flawless. (I admit that when I read her memoir, “A Widow’s Story,” 2011, I was surprised to see how very ordinary her own marriage was). So I wasn’t overly surprised to read that she began her career on a theme that we have come to associate with this author— a dark tale of two lovers entwined in sexual chaos
On Oct. 25, 1964, the NY Times reviewed “Shuddering” and wrote of the female protagonist, “Karen Herz at 17 is fragilely beautiful, and, as she herself recognizes, a little “queer in the head.” Her impulses are ungovernable; her whims must be carried to the limit.” Her being queer in the head actually reads as if she may be autistic. I did wonder if Karen embraces a twisted love affair because those with childhood neurodevelopment disorders often struggle with processing social cues. I have no idea if that is how Oates meant for her character to present, but that is my take on Karen. Her born-angry 30-year-old racecar driving lover is Shar. He appears to have a death wish. There is little doubt that his violent occupation symbolizes their relationship. Karen marries Shar and things go from bad to worse. Remember the Billie Holiday song, “My Man?” “My life is just despair, but I don't care, He beats me, too, what can I do?” Well, that can be Karen singing about her man Shar. But then again, Shar’s feelings about Karen are just as bizarre. He literally cannot live with her (he never was a one-woman kind of guy) or without her (he stays since he is obsessed that he cannot bring her to sexual orgasm). There is a constant struggle of brutality and indifference between them.
Although the story may revolve around sex, her prose is never porn-like.
The Times reviewer also wrote, “This material is not as garish as it sounds because of the clarity, grace, and intelligence of the writing.” For Oates to pull this off at such a tender age is nothing short of amazing. However, this does not mean “Shuddering” is flawless. The story can wander off at certain times with unneeded subplots, which detract from the real tale. She was still in the process of learning her craft.
So why does Oates’ unwavering theme on the abuse of women keep working for her? I believe it is her willingness to unabashedly dive into the darkest cavity of the human psyche. And let’s face it—such tales are fascinating to read. She always seems to ask the question ‘Just what is insanity?’ Aren’t we all just a little scared to find bits of ourselves in her unstable characters? You might cringe, but Oates has a unique voice and is one hell of a storyteller.