Joyce Carol Oates was one of those authors whom I had been hearing a lot about but had never had the opportunity to experience myself. Seeing one of her newest short story collections, I hurried to get a hold of it and read it, anticipating great things from it.
However, the stories were not at all what I expected. As the title of the collection indicates, all the stories included here are ‘tales of terror’. Even though I haven’t read much horror fiction and I have a very vague idea of what a horror story entails, I daresay that these stories didn’t frighten me all that much. They did contain some very disturbing images and notions and there was this ominous atmosphere permeating the stories (not to mention that all of Oates’ characters seemed deranged or crazy in some way or another), but something in their execution didn’t add up to evoke my being scared enough.
Also, I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy all the stories. Apart from the first one, which also happens to be the title story and the last one, “Mystery, Inc.”, which takes place in a bookshop, the rest of them were rather average for me. Generally, I felt like the author was way too “chatty”, perhaps in order to make the stories appear longer, but the plot seemed to be lost in unnecessary details most of the time. The very open ending of most of the tales also kept me unsatisfied – even though I can appreciate an open-to-interpretation ending sometimes, the ending given to some of these stories seemed too vague and hurriedly given at times, thus providing no actual closure to the story.
Of course, the language and writing style were very satisfactory and the ideas behind some of these stories, although disturbing, were very interesting.
All in all, I was quite disappointed by this book, as I expected a mindblowing read, but I do plan on giving Oates’s writings another try in the future. If you have read and enjoyed Oates’s books, feel free to give me your recommendations 🙂