Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Fossil-Figures" by Joyce Carol Oates

If all the stories in this collection are as good as the first two, this exercise will be well worth it.

I don't think I've read any fiction by Oates before. But, of course, she's one of those authors whose name gets tossed about when discussing greats of the last twenty years or so. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to see her name listed on the cover as a contributor to this collection.

"Fossil-Figures" follows two brothers, twins actually, whose lives lead them further and further apart until, unexpectedly, they don't anymore.

Simply put, it's a kind of modern-day fairy tale. Good and evil, families, politics, corruption, all sewn up into a neat, little package — like a fairy tale.

What's especially appealing about this story are the repetitious thoughts that link the twins, as the story follows their lives. Also the theme which runs throughout the story, "Our lives are Mobius strips, misery and wonder simultaneously. Our destinies are infinite, and infinitely recurring."

The wonder is truly that Oates was able, in just a few short pages, to weave these two characters into archetypes of misery and wonder, and left me feeling both.

1 comment:

  1. I just listened to this story on cd on my way to work, and remembered what a fabulous wordsmith ms oates is. I have read many of her books, and have never been disappointed. Besides impeccable writing her characters and themes are fascinating.


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