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"'Bad blood'! --what does that mean?" I asked, revulsed by the thought, and Mother said, "'Bad feeling.' basically," and I said, "But why call it something so ugly-- 'bad blood'? Ugh." My throat choked up as if the smell was with us in the room. "One day," Mother said ominously, yet with satisfaction, "you'll know." sweet Jesus, this was a disturbing novella.SOME SPOILERS but nothing you won't find right on the back cover of the bookprecocious 11-year old Josie and her intriguing but worthles
This is in reply to the current one other reviewer and to anyone who leans toward their same viewpoint on stories such as these:This is one of Oates best.Stirring, evocative, emotional and haunting.The kind of story that at least on some level sears itself into ones memory.Oates commonly writes about unconventional romantic relationships and romances that others find unsettling or disturbing. Its one of her trademarks.If that bothers you, you should likely steer clear of much of her work as you
This 1996 novella makes for a curious little book. The hardcover’s title is lettered on the dust jacket in a shiny purple foil blackletter typeface, and the narrative is pointedly labelled “A Gothic Tale” on the title page. Barry Moser’s cover and inside illustrations—stark black-and-white engravings—hark back to a nineteenth-century style. Given this packaging, all postmodern pastiche with a nudge-and-a-wink from the shiny purple decoration, one would not necessarily expect such grim subject ma...
Once again JCO defies the GoodReads rating system. If reading Zombie is like playing in a biohazard bag, then First Love is like playing in a velvet pouch. Lined with wolverines. Seriously warped, beautifully written and illustrated.It rang a little hollow for me this time around--I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's hard to believe that the narrator seems relatively unscathed at the end. Because there's a whole of scathing going on in this story.
Such a cute, tiny book! It looks like it could be a children’s book but it’s more like that adorable fluffball kitten that slices your hand open with its razor sharp claws! Definitely one of her darker stories, and this lady is DARK. Bless her heart 🙃
A nasty little 80 page story.
The content was highly disturbing. No reprieve except one thankfully or I would’ve thrown it in the garbage. I give it 3 stars because it is well written, the symbols used within the story are all clear but I wasn’t able to find the right combination to find the story within the story. Probably because the content was freaking messed up.
3.5 stars. A young girl's introduction to her reclusive, religious cousin is the beginning of a hidden relationship. This has a rich atmosphere, fevered with summer heat and the southern gothic. The stylized voice lands somewhere between genre and literary, and it alternates between a claustrophobic second person and a distant, sardonic third person. It leans into its liminal space to interrogate what's "real" in the relationship, how it appears, is depicted, is conceptualized: a transforming sn...
My morning of election read yesterday. Disturbing and immensely quotable.'Mother said, her gaze on me calculating, impatient, of the silver glint of light reflected in swift-moving water, "There is no 'there', there is only 'here'. Just as there is no 'then', but only 'now'. America is founded upon such principles, and, as Americans, we must be, too."'
A weird, creepy and kinda gross little thing.
Very weird book - creepy, in fact, and while it never directly addresses what is the overarching theme of the story (pedophilia), it is clear that Jared (the saintly boy, the seminary student) is a perverted predator. That Josie's mother can't see this, and the boy's grandmother refuses to acknowledge it is most disturbing part of the book. It is labeled a gothic tale, and while there are gothic elements, in my mind it is less a gothic tale than a tale of extreme perversion.
I grabbed this from my local Brooklyn library branch in a mania of acquisition, of which books have been the most recent target. I was halfway out the door when "author-I've-heard-of-but-haven't-read" and "thinness" and "at-reachable-shelf-level" conspired to add this to my stack.Oates is a talented writer and this story was very evocative in the typical gothic ways. It's a short, entertaining read. If you spy it on your local library shelf, snatch it up!
The subtitle: "A Gothic Tale," prepares the reader for the stylized prose, and mysterious, dark, pastoral setting: many of the literary tropes of gothic literature. Typically the protagonist is a young female, sexually innocent, and full of curiosity. The prose is a bit...breathy at times, but I really enjoyed the book as a whole, including the lovely engravings.
This was probably one of the most disturbing and uncomfortable novels I have ever read, although it was very good and had a lot of mystery in it.
this tiny, unsettling, gothic tale is laden with disturbing imagery, twisted relationships, and predatory evil + josie, an 11 year old child, is left unprotected by her self-centered mother, is ignored by her uncaring aunt, and is most grievously violated by her strange, manipulative, abusive cousin + the moser woodcuts intensify the dark, menacing feeling that pervades the book•“You would not call it love you would have another name, another word for it.Shutting my eyes sometimes to the point o...
Twisted as only Joyce Carol Oates can do. A short, quick read, while densely layered and rich in detail. Oates' sustained interrogation of humanity's dark heart is a vital contribution to American literature.
Striking, dark, poetic and revealing. The book will take you to a different world. Joyce Carol Oates always has the power with her poetic, strong and elegant writing style and her very selective choice of words.
I went on a JCO kick after reading "Where are you going, where have you been?" in the Norton Anthology, not knowing how fucking prolific this woman is and that not all JCO books are created equal.I remember this being a good and creepy little tome and worth a re-visit if I can find my copy.
A grim, disturbing little novel. Not particularly enjoyable but definitely hypnotic.
This is highly disturbing.
Vivid, lurid, and entrancing
Ms. Oates will always be one of my most favorite writers. However, her work is usually quite disturbing. Highly intelligent JCO is no doubt a literary genius.
I'm a fervent fan of Joyce Carol Oates, though I'll admit I don't appreciate all her works equally. I hate to use the judgment "like," as it isn't professional in a critical approach to a book, so I'll say I partially appreciated 'First Love,' with a few reservations. (And I do wish more reviews focused more on criticism and not direct "like" or "dislike." Things are seldom so cut and dried, though I've been lazy in that exact same way myself, so I'm not without sin.)Even considering my familiar...
I am torn about this one. Alright, I will be honest: I picked this up (okay, I did not pick anything, I hunted it across the internet - I had to order this from the U.S.A. and wait about 2 months for it to arrive and paid a whopping 0.49 cents) specifically for the theme. Yeah, I am a sick fuck. I enjoy fiction that deals with twisted themes, to see how well they can sell me the madness in it. I want it to make me see the other side. And this... well... Okay, let´s start with the positive: the w...
First Love is a compelling novella that tells the story of an eleven year of girl named Josie whose mother leaves her father and decides to take Josie away to upstate New York where the two will live with her aunt. Josie soon realizes, that she has never met this aunt before and that the aunt is infact her GREAT aunt whom her mother has not seen for decades. Josie is an inquisitive girl, which her mother finds troubling at times, who finds it difficult to settle into her great aunt's house where...
A quick read, and certainly full of murky atmosphere...but I'm afraid I'm not comprehending what the author is after. I think it might simply be too short for its gothic ambition, and in any event I was far more interested in the story of the runaway mother-and-child.
Warning: Discussion about sexual assaultThis is a novella that I picked up to read in my library while waiting for an appointment. It took me a half hour to complete. I am starting to think I should create a separate shelf called 'Oates writes about sexual assault' I think almost if not all of her novels that I have read would be on it.I love love love Joyce Carol Oates' writing. She is hands down one of my favorite writers. I have never read another author like her with the command to create su...
I would give this book 3.5 stars. With that said....I fell in love with Delia, the mother, right away. Her views on life and the human mind were thought provoking and contained an ethereal beauty to it. I could only dream of ever expelling such a thought process as hers. This then brings me to the main character of little Josie. Oates always gives her characters such life, she can delve into the human psyche and bring about some of the most intriguing characters I've ever read. Josie is another
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***I was looking for something else in the library when I passed the shelves of Joyce Carol Oates books. As I've read and enjoyed a couple of hers, I grabbed two.This was a fast read, being only 86 half pages (the book is the size of a Book of Common Prayer). Thank goodness it was short.In 86 pages she packed a lot of disturbing things -- an eleven-year old's brushes with incest, neglect, violations and scarafactions, self-mutilation, and a near murder. Holy crap, I was glad w...
A gothic tale with its main character of eleven years old girl named Josi S who has come with her mother, Delia S to live in her great-aunt Esther Burkhardt’s house in upstate New York – after the divorce of her parent. Also living there is Josie’s cousin – Jared Jr. – on leave from the Presbyterian seminary. Preoccupied with his studies, impeccably dressed in his starched white shirts, distant, and mysterious, Jared Jr., is an intriguing figure to Josie’s curios and impressionable young mind....