Eight Exquisite Joyce Carol Oates Short Stories

Joyce Carol Oates short stories are just a preview of an artistic genius in her element.

“My belief is that art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.”

 Joyce Carol Oates

If you’re not familiar with her work, start with these eight must-reads of Oates’ most anthologized short stories, and for good reason. Then perhaps even try a masterclass from the artist.

Joyce Carol Oates short stories

Eight exquisite Joyce Carol Oates short stories

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

Joyce Carol Oates is a master of the short story form, and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” is one of her most celebrated pieces. The story follows Connie, a teenage girl who is at the mercy of an older man named Arnold Friend. Friend is a creepy, predatory figure who knows everything about Connie. He’s also clearly dangerous, and Connie must grapple with the decision of whether to go with him or not.

“The Lottery”

“The Lottery” is another of Oates’ more famous short stories. It’s a dark tale about a small town that holds a lottery each year in which one person is chosen to be stoned to death. The story follows the townspeople as they go about their day-to-day lives, all leading up to the moment when the lottery winner is chosen.

“Five Points”

“Five Points” is a story about race and class in America. It follows the lives of five different characters – a black teenage girl, a white teenage boy, a wealthy white woman, a poor black man, and a

“The Muse”

“The Muse” is a story about an artist named Felix who is struggling to find inspiration for his work. He turns to a muse, a young woman named Clara, for help. But as he starts to become more obsessed with her, he begins to lose touch with reality.

“In the Region of Ice”

“In the Region of Ice” is a haunting story about two sisters who are stranded in the Arctic. They’re slowly freezing to death, and as they wait for rescue, they reflect on their lives and relationships.

“Bluebeard’s Egg”

“Bluebeard’s Egg” is a story about a woman named Sally who discovers that her husband has been keeping a dark secret from her. He’s been hiding a dead body in their home, and as she tries to wrap her mind around what he’s done, she also has to deal with the fact that she may be next.

“The Beasts of Clawstone Castle”

“The Beasts of Clawstone Castle” is a gothic story about two sisters who are sent to live in a castle after their parents die. The castle is home to a number of strange and dangerous beasts, and the sisters must find a way to survive.

“Son of the Morning”

“Son of the Morning” is a story about a woman named Lilith who gives birth to a half-human, half-demon creature. She must protect her son from the demons who are seeking to claim him. And she also has to deal with the fact that he may be evil himself.

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