Set against the mythic-historic backdrop of Niagara Falls in the mid-twentieth century, this haunting exploration of the American family in crisis is a stunning achievement from "one of the great artistic forces of our time" (The Nation).This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Written when Joyce Carol Oates was in her early twenties, and first published in 1964, With Shuddering Fall is her powerful debut novel, the first of five new Oates reprints from Ecco.
Following the turbulent story of two lovers who discover themselves mortal enemies, the author explores the struggle for dominance in erotic relationships that has become a predominant theme in her work, as well as the perils of patriarchal inheritance, and the ripple-effects of emotional loss in adolescence. The result is an unsentimental yet sympathetic rendering of a disastrous love affair in which hatred is nearly as powerful as love, and a yearning for destruction is an abiding and insatiable passion.
Discover what prompted the New York Times to compare this young writer’s debut to Shirley Jackson’s famous short story, “The Lottery.” Readers looking for a place to start in Joyce Carol Oates’s vast catalogue will be intrigued by the sheer narrative force of the young author, and her willingness to anatomize the darkest recesses of humanity in a search for redemption and resolution.
Nathan Vickery came into the world amid unfortunate circumstances. His mother, Elsa Vickery, daughter of an agnostic small town doctor and his pious wife, was brutally assaulted at the age of seventeen. The son she gave birth to in the wake of this event is brought up by his grandmother as a devoted Christian. At the age of seven, Nathan begins to see visions of Christ and embarks on a path as a prodigy boy-preacher, hurtling toward enlightenment while increasingly falling under the dangerous spell of power.
Nathan becomes the leader of an evangelical church, accumulating vast riches from donation. Each year, his visions grow more elaborate and grandiose. When he suddenly feels that God has forsaken him, is it punishment for indulging in the sins of lust, pride, and greed that he has long preached against?
Joyce Carol Oates’s talent for searing psychological inquiry and her eye for detail as well as her knack for indelible character portrayals and unflinching social commentary are fully on display in Son of the Morning. Fans of her work will be thrilled to see this early novel, the influences of which can be observed in later tour-de-force works like A Book of American Martyrs and The Sacrifice.
The patriarch of the Licht family, Abraham has raised a brood of talented con artists, children molded in his image, and experts in The Game, his calling and philosophy of life. Traveling from one small town to the next across the continent, from the Northeast to the frontier West, they skillfully swindle unsuspecting victims, playing on their greed, lust, pride, and small-mindedness. Despite their success, Abraham cannot banish a past that haunts him: the ghost of his ancestor Sarah Licht, a former con woman who met with a gruesome fate.
As Abraham involves his family in more and more complex and impressive schemes, he finds himself caught between the specter of Sarah and the growing terrors of his present. While his carefully crafted lies and schemes begin to fracture and disintegrate before his eyes, Abraham discovers that the bond of family is as tenuous and treacherous as the tricks he perpetrates upon unsuspecting strangers.
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a tranquil place to raise a family, a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at the edges of the town, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent. A powerful curse besets the elite families of Princeton; their daughters begin disappearing. A young bride on the verge of the altar is seduced and abducted by a dangerously compelling man–a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince who might just be the devil, and who spreads his curse upon a richly deserving community of white Anglo-Saxon privilege. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up.
When the bride's brother sets out against all odds to find her, his path will cross those of Princeton's most formidable people, from Grover Cleveland, fresh out of his second term in the White House and retired to town for a quieter life, to soon-to-be commander in chief Woodrow Wilson, president of the university and a complex individual obsessed to the point of madness with his need to retain power; from the young Socialist idealist Upton Sinclair to his charismatic comrade Jack London, and the most famous writer of the era, Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain–all plagued by "accursed" visions.
An utterly fresh work from Oates, The Accursed marks new territory for the masterful writer. Narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling supernatural elements to stunning effect.