Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Morning Reading: "Pumpkin Head" by Joyce Carol Oates

Over at his blog Perpetual Folly, Clifford Garstang continues his exercise of reviewing every story published in The New Yorker.

He takes on Joyce Carol Oates this time and her recent story "Pumpkin Head."

This story has moments that gripped me, but I never quote got over the stumbling beginning. I don’t want to tell Joyce Carol Oates how to write her stories, but her introductory paragraph shouldn’t begin this story. Yes, it’s lovely, and the reference to “crossing-over time” is crucial, but the story begins in October, and that paragraph about what happened in March can wait. (Okay, so I guess I do want to tell JCO how to writer her stories.)

To read the rest of Gartsang's critique, click here and scroll down..

Now, here's the first paragraph of Oates' story:

In late March, there’d been a sleet storm throughout north-central New Jersey. Her husband had died several days before. There was no connection, she knew. But since that time she’d begun to notice at twilight a curious glistening to the air. Often, she found herself in the doorway of her house, or outside, not remembering how she’d got there. For long minutes, she would stare as the colors faded and a glassy light emerged from the sky and from the Scotch pines surrounding the house. It did not seem to her a natural light, and in weak moments she thought, This is the crossing-over time. She watched, not knowing what she might be seeing. She felt aroused, vigilant. She felt apprehension. She wondered if the strange glistening to the air had always been there but in her previous, protected life she hadn’t noticed it.

And to read the rest of "Pumpkin Head," (you really should), click here.

1 comment:

Lou said...

Oates always urges us back to the beginning of her stories, doesn't she? Anton Kruppev, Arnold Friend. "There was no connection, she knew."

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