As you know, this month's featured book is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, and I'll start blogging about the short stories in that book next week (which means that you still have time to get the book and read along -- nag, nag, nag).
Today, though, I'd like to blog about one of the most prolific writers of our time -- Joyce Carol Oates. She's published more than fifty novels (and no, that's not a typo - fifty novels!!!). Beyond her novels, she's also published more than a dozen volumes of short stories, nearly ten volumes of poetry (her tenth is forthcoming), and a fair number of nonfiction works, essays, and even a few children's books.
Her list of publications is, of course, pretty impressive by itself. But here's the real kicker. Joyce Carol Oates is an absolutely amazing writer. She's not cranking out formulaic garbage. She's a serious thinker, and her characters are powerful and unique.
Some of her best work (and let's be honest, I've only read a fraction of it), deals with pure evil and madness. A novel she published in 1995 titled Zombie, based on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, is currently being made into a one-man play. You can see an interview with Oates about that stage play here.
And if you've never read a thing by Oates, I'd suggest you start with her most-widely read short story, a mind-bender titled, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" It's online here, and like Zombie, it takes a long, hard look at pure evil.
Curious? Then click the link, read the story, and brace yourself.