Joyce Carol Oates Against Nature Essay

Joyce Carol Oates Against Nature Essay-42
I don’t think that the city is what one would call a healthy city, but there are many other reasons having to do with the financial collapse. Women wore corsets and all sorts of things that they don’t wear today. And I wasn’t looking at my society with any kind of objectivity in those days. The concept of gay liberation and homosexuality was not acknowledged and was considered a pathology, and we are very different today. So basically that’s the rhythm of the novel—to bring the father back. I always wanted to write about people who suffer anonymously who work in factories, to provide the best wages they can for their family. I like to write about people who are heroic in a quiet, almost anonymous way and no one knows or even cares about. You didn’t really have that consciousness that we have today. Just someone who is a very nice person—does volunteer work with senior citizens—things that my mother did. RB: They might have already experienced that since the federal building bombing. I should have said “the farther you get away from the 9/11 area.” But of course the Oklahoma City bombing seemed to be the work of a single or a couple of nuts who— RB: If I recall correctly, the news chatter brought up Arab terrorists. Upstate New York and Western New York have been in an economic recession for decades. It’s been like that for many decades; an economist could explain why. Men were much more likely to wear neckties and coats, and the sexual politics were very different. And a good girl was not only a virgin, of course, but actually knew very little of what would happen on a honeymoon or a marriage. If one wanted not to know today one would not be able to—because we are just assailed. So it may be that 1950 is closer in some respects to 1900 than it is to 2004, and that’s what you are responding to, that. JCO: I wanted to write a novel in which a father would be redeemed, and the father was going to be expelled from the family, and the first version he was going to go to prison. RB: As the reader, I never felt he was a bad father. RB: The only person who felt he was a bad father was his wife. Many of them are younger men who are not educated and got married and had babies, and they go out and work in these factories and they die when they are 45 or 51. It’s the same way today; there are many people who elect to work in extremely dangerous circumstances, and they just take a chance. There are certain buzzwords in the 21st century that we take for granted. This is not Mother Teresa, or anything extraordinary, but the novel I have written about losing the mother is based on my own mother, and yet everything in the novel, almost everything, is fictitious. RB: You are an old hand in the literary book world. As a person—I look at my calendar to see what’s down.

I don’t think that the city is what one would call a healthy city, but there are many other reasons having to do with the financial collapse. Women wore corsets and all sorts of things that they don’t wear today. And I wasn’t looking at my society with any kind of objectivity in those days. The concept of gay liberation and homosexuality was not acknowledged and was considered a pathology, and we are very different today. So basically that’s the rhythm of the novel—to bring the father back. I always wanted to write about people who suffer anonymously who work in factories, to provide the best wages they can for their family. I like to write about people who are heroic in a quiet, almost anonymous way and no one knows or even cares about. You didn’t really have that consciousness that we have today. Just someone who is a very nice person—does volunteer work with senior citizens—things that my mother did. RB: They might have already experienced that since the federal building bombing. I should have said “the farther you get away from the 9/11 area.” But of course the Oklahoma City bombing seemed to be the work of a single or a couple of nuts who— RB: If I recall correctly, the news chatter brought up Arab terrorists.

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I usually encourage them to go to graduate school or to take a writing course because writing workshops are so friendly and supportive and there is a wonderful atmosphere, at least in my writing workshops. Stacks and stacks—if 500 stories come in every week, you can’t give each the attention that you give— RB: I was thinking of that’s a very good magazine. RB: What does it say that so many people want to be writers? I don’t know—they have the leisure time and relative affluence. And that there is a natural craving in our species to tell stories and express ourselves, if not in words, maybe in paintings or music. RB: For past 50 years, it seems that declinist theories have had some currency—pop culture is suffocating high culture, the visual is overwhelming the written word. Maybe our culture is dividing into two—the internet culture and then other people. RB: I think it’s odd that the computer ends up affirming language and text. Because people of an older generation, many of them find computers very difficult.

Some of them are natural-born writers, and I can sort of distinguish who they are.

RB: Do you encourage people to continue on writing programs? If somebody comes to ask my opinion, I’ll give an opinion. There is supposed to be so much illiteracy in the United States, but to handle the internet easily, you have to know how to spell.

And so that’s what I mean by the moral compromises. But the other nations think they are good people and that they have God on their side. But people joke about things they are uneasy about. It’s just the way the human species is constructed, to be very myopic. She loves her children so much and she tries to possess them. RB: Her love for children is a little twisted, at least in the way she talks to them. It had to be that God—if there is a God—that he was punishing her and she was somebody who was in the shadows. RB: Very late in this story, you have her once again express her love for her husband. RB: But through most of the remainder of the story, after his death, she had nothing good to say about him. And then he got drunk and then he committed suicide. But she loved the dog he [her husband] brought her and he brings this puppy and leaves the puppy there and it’s like he is giving [of] himself. And I sort of relate to animals whenever there is animal in a novel of mine; the animals in my novels have luminous intensity. But I am interested in different breeds and their different characteristics. I write another novel and then I go back to something—I have two novels in drawers right now that are sort of gestating. RB: So when you write, you don’t immediately start to revise, to get it ready for publication? JCO: It’s finished, but I don’t trust that judgment. RB: Houghton Mifflin has turned the into about nine titles. To be editing a big volume and to read and get a whole lot of material. RB: What do you make of the recent NEA study that claims a decline in reading and the reaction to it? The Harry Potter phenomenon not only brought in children, but older people were reading it, too. Some of the great books of our time—so it’s one of these things that gets in the news but if you look at it carefully— RB: These surveys are like exit polls JCO: Something’s wrong you know.

It’s just the way the human species is constructed, to be very myopic. When women’s liberation was just beginning back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were a lot of really harsh, cruel jokes at the expense of the feminists, because there was a feeling of uneasiness. Each person thinks he is the center of everything else. And she was just this society woman and when she got older that didn’t work any longer. They are not just animals, but they have a symbolic intensity. RB: What gives you a feeling of satisfaction or success after you have written something as large as a novel? Like, to me, if that novel had to be published it would be fine, but I always wait for a year and then I look at it again, and I will add something or subtract something. JCO: Best American Sports [Writing]— RB: Travel Writing, Essays, Science Writing, Non-Required Reading— JCO: The short stories [1915] was the first. I am just guessing, maybe a billion people or more have read that book.

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