Saturday, September 23, 2006

Joyce Carol Oates

I just finished Joyce Carol Oates' Missing Mom, a recent novel published in 2005. I simply don't understand how someone can write so amazingly well and be incredibly prolific at the same time.
In Missing Mom, we meet Gwen Eaton through her 31 year old daughter Nikki Eaton. Within the first 30 pages or so, Gwen Eaton is found murdered. The 400+pages follow Nikki through the first year after her mother's murder. The depth of the characters and Oates' craft make it definitely worth reading. I read it in one week, which is saying a lot, considering my busy work schedule this time of year.

The edition of Missing Mom I read is one of those Harper Perennial P.S. books that includes several pages in the back with things such as an author interview, etc. In response to the interviewer's question of a guilty pleasure or "favorite trashy read," Oates says, "I never read, watch, or listen to anything remotely 'trashy,' for life is too short." No wonder she is so prolific.

I was also very surprised to read that she writes the first draft of all of her books in longhand and then continues her work on a typewriter. She does not own a computer.

I think reading Missing Mom created a desire in me to write something different from the book I'm currently writing on California libraries. I wrote (in pencil!) an outline and the beginnings of several short semi-autobiographical pieces. It felt so good to write something completely creative.


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