Happy Birthday Joyce Carol Oates

Fodder for Fiction Weekly Author Birthday Bash

Happy Birthday to Joyce Carol Oates! I couldn’t resist sharing the following excerpt in honor of her special day. It may not feel very celebratory – and I hope Joyce Carol Oates feels happy on her birthday. However, there is something so moving about how loss can change our perception.

The river! Marina recalled how from Adam’s studio, at the rear of his house, you could stand staring across the river, those long mesmerized moments as light faded on the agitated waves, and dusk deepened at the edges of things; dusk, a quality of earth; while an eerie oily-glistening light remained on the water. In the west, the sun was chemical red and gorgeous, bleeding at the horizon like a burst egg yolk.

On both sides of the river fireworks erupted. Fourth of July: the American holiday celebrating gunfire, rockets, aggression, death to the enemy. Across the river on the east bank of the Hudson, in the vicinity of Tarrytown, gaudy pinwheels of crimson, gold, blinding-white light were rising, soaring and falling soundlessly into the river. And a moment later replaced by more explosions, gaudy glittering colors rising, sinking soundlessly to extinction. “Stop. Stop. Stop.” This idiotic celebration, at a time of death. As if in mockery of a man’s death. Even in Jones Point, where death awaited her. Lurid bright carnival colors pitching up into the now-darkening sky over the river. Exploding yellow calyxes, crimson eyeballs, streamers of rainbow guts. Hideous, hellish. Marina recalled that fireworks are jokey symbols of sexual orgasm, and the thought repelled her. Never us. And now never.

Middle Age by Joyce Carol Oates

Paradoxically, I find the passage beautiful as it describes something the narrator sees as abhorrent. It’s precisely why I am in awe of the masterful craft of Joyce Carol Oates. Thank you, Joyce, and many happy returns of the day!

Best to you,

Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Author of Smart Women’s Fiction


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