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Soul at the White Heat : Inspiration, Obsession, and the Writing Life
by Joyce Carol Oates


Overview -

A new collection of critical and personal essays on writing, obsession, and inspiration from National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates.

"Why do we write?"

With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism.  Read more...


 
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More About Soul at the White Heat by Joyce Carol Oates
 
 
 
Overview

A new collection of critical and personal essays on writing, obsession, and inspiration from National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Joyce Carol Oates.

"Why do we write?"

With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life, and all its attendant anxieties, joys, and futilities, in this collection of seminal essays and criticism. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer s inspiration do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something "happen" to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Can the appearance of a muse-like Other bring about a writer s best work?

In Soul at the White Heat, Oates deploys her keenest critical faculties, conjuring contemporary and past voices whose work she deftly and creatively dissects for clues to these elusive questions. Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, J. M. Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Zadie Smith, and many others appear as predecessors and peers material through which Oates sifts in acting as literary detective, philosopher, and student. The book is at its most thrilling when watching the writer herself at work, and Oates provides rare insight into her own process, in candid, self-aware dispatches from the author s own writing room. The New York Times Book Review has raved, "who better than Joyce Carol Oates . . . to explicate the craft of writing?" Longtime admirers of Joyce Carol Oates s novels as well as her prose will discover much to be inspired by and obsess upon themselves in this inventive collection from an American master.

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062564504
  • ISBN-10: 0062564501
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: September 2016
  • Page Count: 400


Related Categories

Books > Literary Collections > Essays

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-08-15
  • Reviewer: Staff

This collection of essays, reviews, and lectures from a reigning doyenne of American letters is a bit of a hodgepodge, but taken as a whole provides an eclectic survey of contemporary American literature. Oates is likely most familiar to readers as a novelist (The Man Without a Shadow) and short story writer. But the author is also one of the U.S.'s keenest literary critics, as the works collected here demonstrate in abundance. The book's first section, "The Writing Life," contains a lecture and a trio of essays. These are generous and engaging, though Oates's Cassandra-ish warnings about the threat social media poses to literary culture may chafe more tech-savvy audiences. In the second section, "Classics," a standout is her invigorating dive into H.P. Lovecraft's contributions to genre and literary fiction. The third section, "Contemporaries," is the largest and most cohesive. Reading these selected reviews, one develops an acute sense of Oates's literary philosophy as she lovingly yet rigorously critiques works by a diverse set of authors, including Derek Raymond and Jeanette Winterson. The final section, "Real Life," contains just one essay and thus feels a bit tacked on, but the piece is a harrowing and thought-provoking work of reportage on a visit to San Quentin Prison, and is well worth readers' time. (Sept.)

 
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