The central haunting of this collection of 16 tales is not anything so concrete as a building haunted by a ghost, but rather the interior haunting of a human being by their ever-shifting sense of self. As Joyce Carol Oates puts it (in a fascinating afterword on the nature and history of the grotesque), "The subjectivity that is the essence of the human is also the mystery that divides us irrevocably from others . . . allothersare, in the deepest sense,strangers." These stories, while all dark, cover a range of styles and subjects. Some are vividly violent; several are subtle and/or ironic.The New York Timespraised this collection for "pull[ing] off what this author does best: exploring the tricky juncture between tattered social fabric and shaky psyche, while serving up some choice macabre moments."
Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque is an impeccable collection of stories, illustrating yet again why Joyce Carol Oates is one of this country's most underrated yet illustrious authors working today; her capacity to put herself into her characters is mind boggling and thus makes them shine forth beyond the human fictional dimension. They are reality. Her characters are well rounded and fully explored and developed; no nuance is ignored, from physical characteristics down to interior monologue in … more