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Contemporary Writers Series to present Oates

The Contemporary Writers Series is hosting one of the world’s most eminent writers, Joyce Carol Oates, on Feb. 12. Students can converse with her about her most recent collection of short stories, Black Dahlia & White Rose in Mills Hall room 135, before catching her reading at 5:50 p.m. in the Bender Room in Carnegie Hall.

(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Black Dahlia & White Rose “explores the menace that lurks at the edges of and intrudes upon even the seemingly safest of lives — and maps with rare emotional acuity the transformational cost of such intrusions,” the New York Times said in a recent review.

Oates was born in Lockport, New York in 1938 and published her first book in 1963. She has since published over 80 novels, volumes of short stories, books of poetry, and nonfiction. She is the recipient of many awards, including the National Book Award for her novel them (1969), and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times. She has taught in the creative writing department at Princeton since 1978.

In Stories That Define Me, an essay that describes how she feels about her writing, Oates says, “Telling stories, I discovered at the age of 3 or 4, is a way of being told stories. One picture yields another; one set of words, another set of words. Like our dreams, the stories we tell are also the stories we are told.”

Along with Black Dahlia & White Rose, her recent publications include Mudwoman and Daddy Love.

Mudwoman is different from most of her novels.

“I almost never write inspired by a dream vision,” Oates, 73, said in an interview from her home in Princeton, N.J. ”But, I saw a woman sitting at a large table wearing inappropriate, very heavy makeup that had dried, like mud, and was darker than her skin. I was so haunted by the image, and when I woke up I immediately started writing notes. It was presented to me as a great mystery that I had to decode and put in a context.”

Her most recent book, Daddy Love, was published Jan. 7 of this year. According to a review by Marilyn Stasio in The New York Times, “Oates is a mind-reader who writes psychological horror stories about seriously disturbed minds, and its hard to tear your eyes away from her grimly detailed portrait of Daddy Love.”

“I write with the enormous hope of altering the world and to discover what it is I will have written,” Oates said.