Adventures in Reading


In response to Weekly Geeks #12
November 6, 2008, 8:47 am
Filed under: thoughtful | Tags: , ,

Anyone else remember Weekly Geeks #12 from, well, weeks ago? Anyone? Well I have finally finished reading Joyce Carol Oates’ My Sister, My Love, which most of my participants asked about, and am responding.

From Andi: “Some people seem to find her [Oates] tedious, so do you?” Yes and no. The final part of the book was definitely tedious, but considering the tabloid nature of My Sister, My Love of course all of the good stuff was up front. But Oates does seem to favor broad ideas with lots of development.

From Dew: “Did My Sister, My Love have any stylistic eccentricities that bothered you while reading?” Oates definitely favored an unconventional narrative style, which is something I actually quite enjoy in fiction. The story was told through the perspective of Skyler and his narrative would switch between first and third person, he’d reflect on his own use of literary devices, and the physical page at times would switch between a journal and the memoir. I don’t recall any “run-ons” though.

From Katherine: “Have you read any of Oates’s other works…? If so, how do they stack up to My Sister, My Love?” My experience with Oates is limited to her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, which is a brilliant story that I have a fond recollection of spending days of class dissecting and discussing. Though short stories and novels are incredibally different, I was impressed with the voices and perspectives that Oates can take on; both are so thoroughly different and each written quite well.

From bybee: “Is this a novel for adults, or another YA book?” It’s definitely an adult novel in content, thought, ambiguity, themes, etc. Not to say that a young adult with a mature reading pallet couldn’t get behind My Sister, My Love, but I don’t think that Oates intended a young adult audience.

From Kim: “I am interested in this one you have picked–is it gloomy or have hope at the end of the tunnel?” Perhaps perverse is a better word? My Sister, My Love – like all good tabloid stories – is a car wreck and we all find ourselves as rubbernecking spectators. It’s not a happy book in that their is no uplifting conclusion, but it is an interesting book that displays the highs and lows of an American family.

From Katrina: “How does it compare to her other work? And does it feature an abused female? All her work seems to be about women who have been mistreated in some way from what I have read so far.” For the first question, see above. My Sister, My Love definitely has an “abused female” in the likes of Bliss Rampike who is murdered and her mother Betsy who experiences a variety of abuses. Saying that though, My Sister, My Love very much explores the idea of abused people, and especially the idea of self-abuse. But that’s definitely an interesting observation and I’ll keep it in mind next time I read Oates.

From Bibliolatrist: “…did the news about the DNA evidence re: the Ramseys affect your reading of the novel? Did you find the obvious connection to the Ramsey family distracting, or did you find it helpful to have the story grounded in “real life”?” When the Ramsey case happened I was quite young and I actually had to read the Wikipedia article to bring me up to date on the murder and trial. I did not find it distracting but it was interesting to have so much fact obvisouly imbedded in a work of fiction. For the more recent DNA evidence that proved it was an outsider – without giving too much away, it’s interesting what Oates did (though appropriate) prior to knowing about this new evidence in the case.

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