Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Thoughts: The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates / The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin


The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
I know this is book isn’t a classic, but—holy cow!—I just have to rave about it. Stephen King was right when called Levin the Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel.

The Stepford Wives was so readable. No, not easy to read, but readable. There are a lot of disturbing themes regarding gender in the book, but Levin was so succinct. He never wasted a single word, and he makes writing look so easy. I highly recommend this one.

The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates
At first, I thought this collection of essays on the writing process reeked of pretentiousness. Oates used a lot of big words like mimesis, memorialization, obliqueness, etc, and there’s a lot of self-clapping on the back involved. I also found some of the essays—one about running and writing, in particular—boring.

HOWEVER, I loved practically all of the quotes by other writers Oates used in the book. My particular favorites are the following:
To Whom the Mornings stand for Nights,
What must the Midnights—be! - Emily Dickinson
Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze too long into an abyss—the abyss will gaze back into you. - Nietzsche
The essays I did like weren’t about Oates’s experiences, but were usually collections of anecdotes about other writers and books—Notes on Failure, Inspiration, and Reading as a Writer. I liked the last one, Reading as a Writer, best. It detailed how writers are sometimes subconsciously influenced by the things they read. According to the essay, for example, Virginia Woolf was influenced by James Joyce, despite considering Ulysses a “book of a self taught working man.”

8 comments:

Misha said...

I LOVE Joyce Carol Oates' fiction novels, but I am not sure I want to read her collection of essays.
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin has been on my TBR forever - I need to read it soon!

Zibilee said...

I have heard a lot of conflicting things about Oates' writing, and I am due to be reading something by her very soon. I am wondering how I will fare with it. I also am glad that you liked The Stepford Wives. It's one I really want to read.

Lesa said...

I bought a pristine but used copy of Stepford Wives recently. I hadn't even realised it was a book. Can't wait to read it!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I have not read either of these books. I own several of Oates books but have not finished any for some reason. (I must try her again).

Trisha said...

I've seen two film versions of the Stepford Wives but I've never read it. I've always thought that knowing what's up may ruin the book for me.

Erin said...

Yes, I loved The Stepford Wives too! So readable, so creepy. I don't usually go for that sort of book, but I was very impressed by The Stepford Wives.

simplerpastimes said...

I've seen part of one of the movie versions of Stepford Wives, but didn't realize it was a book. I may have to look in to that one.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

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