Monday, January 9, 2017

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A Widow's Story, a Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates, a book review

Initially, I started reading A Widow's Story, a Memoir by Joyce Carol Oats book as research for a project I started a while back. Only because I was determined to read the whole thing was I able to read all of it. Even so, I didn't carefully read every word. However, even though most of the 415 pages were difficult for me to get through, I'm glad I did. Why? Most obviously, because I finished what I started. Yet, also because there were some good nuggets. Some actual truths like nuggets of gold lying out in the open creek in the days of the gold rush in California. The sun glints on them, I feel awed and impressed. Then the sun disappears behind the cloud and the gold is no longer identifiable.

Most of the gold appears half-way through the Ms. Joyce's relating of her experience of becoming a widow. Some of them, as memories of her husband. Some during the brief relating of her experience with her late husband's manuscript. Most as commentary.

I had a difficult time with her focus on suicide. I guess it's appropriate given how steeped in suicide and suicidal thoughts Ms. Oates has been for, apparently, the whole of her scholarly life (both as student and teacher). Still, given my experiences with suicide, it is just a difficult subject for me to read… and yet more so because Ms. Oates is for a portion of the book very focused on how much better it would be to kill herself than live.

The saurian is very interesting to me. As a result of certain of my own beliefs, it seems very possible to me that if she actually saw a lizard-creature in the periphery of her vision, that it was actually there as a spiritual tormentor. The things she hears that she attributes to it are perfectly in line with my beliefs and understanding.

The first half is very slow and difficult, yet it ends very suddenly. The end is really no end at all. I think it's possible, given the copyright of 2011, that Ms. Oates didn't have enough time after her loss in which to formulate an end that works better.

Although I recommend it, I do not recommend it highly… unless one is already a widow, in which case it might be very interesting.

Have you read A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates? What did you think of it?
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