Joyce Carol Oates – “My Sister, My Love”

It’s been a year ago that I actually read this book by Joyce Carol Oates, the magnificent author and professor emeritis at Princeton.   She is simply above and beyond as a writer, so anything she writes is worthy of attention and discussion.

This book, however, is not one of her finest, ‘though it is one of her most interesting in terms of deconstructionism and wild fantasy with regard to the JonBenet Ramsey true-life, unsolved murder mystery.  Nobody could have come up with this novel rendering of the circumstances…or of such a portrait of the family and of the little girl’s brother.  

Ms Oates does not, of course, ever say that the book is about the Ramsey tragedy or the family…but anyone who’s read the press or seen a television in the past 10 years would have to be clueless not to make the connection.

Did I  like the book?   Absolutely!!!   I was horrified, I laughed….I even laughed inappropriately!!!   I sniffled.   I glared at the pages.  I shook my head and huffed scornfully.   I stopped and stared off into space, and I promptly sent the book to my very favorite co-gran/co-in-law, Tinker, who is also a JonBenet Ramsey mystery buff like I am/was.

You can absolutely never go wrong with a Joyce Carol Oates book.  Her writing is flawless.   Her story concepts never fail to challenge and sit you down in a comfy chair for hours.  She is a storyteller extraordinaire, and she is a genius with all the nuances of characterization, place and time.

I can’t imagine you’ve never read an Oates novel before.  If you haven’t…..please just keep it to yourself…..     This might not be the place to start, but you could start with, “The Falls,” which is a kinder, gentler novel.    For those of you who are Oates readers, you’ll enjoy this one for all sorts of strange reasons.

Your Bookish Dame

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Snakewoman of Little Egypt Review

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Snakewoman of Little Egypt” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1279844559m/7980890.jpg” /></a><a href=”Snakewoman” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt”>Snakewoman”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7980890-snakewoman-of-little-egypt”>Snakewoman of Little Egypt</a> by <a href=”Robert” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2119.Robert_Hellenga”>Robert”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2119.Robert_Hellenga”>Robert Hellenga</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/127953979″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/127953979″>5 of 5 stars

“Snakewoman of Little Egypt,” is an intelligent, witty, engaging and oddly twisted tale of love, adventure, education and life’s defining moments.  It’s a book written with no apologies for it’s use of vocabulary and substance, and I love it for that alone, if nothing else!    Professor Robert Hellenga, the author, is an author of several other novels, which I will be reading just as quickly as I can get my hands on them.

Let me depart for a moment just to comment that so much of today’s popular literature is “dumbed down” and lacking the intellectual element we need in our continuing walk toward self-improvement. So often authors tell a great tale, but either lack sophistication themselves, or think they need to leave out intellectual “meat” to keep their fan base.  I not only enjoyed this story and the substance of “Snakewoman…,” but I actually learned something in the bargain.  All that being of great value to me!  I treasure the book, the experience and the education.

Flawless in it’s writing and character development, this book brings us immediately into the singular lives of its main characters: Jackson, an anthropologist with Lyme Disease who seems inclined to accept his disabilities and loneliness; and Willa Fern/Sunny, a feisty convict who shot her snakehandling husband and brings her, “I don’t need any man to take care of me,” attitude with her from prison. 

 There are anthropologists, pentacostals, assorted adolescent-acting professors, killers, preachers, students, spritualists, African tribes and adventurers:  all, in this fantastic mix of humorous, serious and amazing novel!

I’m not saying I’ve finished it, because I’m just pacing myself slowing through the last 50 pages.  Does it really have to end??  This is one of those books that you wish would go on and on.  All I can say is that if you’ve ever wondered about what happens inside those deep country churches with “signs following,”  you better run fast and find this book!   I loved it.

Highly recommend to everyone!!  There’s something here for all of you….    Your Bookish Dame