I found this at a church book sale. I figured I should read at least one Joyce Carol Oates book before I die, so this one got the nod. Apparently, I didn't choose as wisely as I might have
, but then I didn't really have the opportunity. It's what the church book table had the day I got the idea.
This book was a bit difficult at first because of the writing style. Oates meanders here and there, not content with a single simile or metaphor for each point, rather preferring the bundle them up, a cacophony of imagery, so to speak. So it takes quite some time actually to get anywhere in the story. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the problem for me was the stark contrast from the book I'd read previously, What Happened to the Corbetts
by Nevil Shute. Shute has a very straightforward and spare style. So, as I said, it took me a while to get into Oates' more expansive style, hinting at things, flitting around things, before eventually, one hopes, things become vaguely clearer, and over time perhaps, clearer still. Once I'd gone through a hundred pages or so, I got used to Oates' style and could better enjoy the story, such as it was.
Basically, this is a story of a family—father, mother, three sons and a daughter—that seemed prosperous and happy. But then the daughter, a popular cheer leader, was raped after a prom, and the whole family fell apart, slowly, agonizingly. Most of this book deals with the slow, agonizing degeneration. It sounds awful, but it does make for interesting reading, perhaps because it seems like a tale that could happen to almost any family. Then too, once one gets used to Oates' style, one realizes that the story is very beautifully written.