Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates
These twenty-five interviews with Joyce Carol Oates from early in her career to the present are the first such collection to be published. In these conversations from sources as diverse as major news magazines and small scholarly journals, Oates candidly talks about her work, her concepts of literature, her methods of writing, and many other topics.
Throughout this anthology, Oates discusses how her writing paints a modern panorama of American life. Oates described her vast canvas to an interviewer: “I could not take the time to write about a group of people who did not represent, in their various struggles, fantasies, unusual experiences, hopes, etc. , our society in miniature. ” She also comments upon her responsibility as an artist “to bear witness” to certain aspects of society. In this light, she responds to criticisms that violence seems to dominate her work by noting that “one simply cannot know strengths unless suffering, misfortune, and violence are explored quite frankly by the writer. ”
In addition to discussing her works—from her first book By the North Gate (1963) to her most popular novel You Must Remember This (1987)—this prolific writer also answers questions about her writing habits. These interviews, spanning nineteen years, reveal a vivid portrait of Joyce Carol Oates writing as the conscience of society, as the creator of memorable prose and poetry, and as the artist deeply committed to a unique vision.