Monday, February 4, 2013
The Gravedigger's Daughter - Joyce Carol Oates
There is a sense of impending doom subtly tightening its grip throughout the first half of this imagined biography of Oates's grandmother.
Though life eventually lightens up for this immigrant Jewish woman - whose idiosyncrasy consists in obliterating her own past - the theme of death pervades every one of all six hundred pages.
Strangely, and despite the dreariness of the subject matter, this is ultimately an uplifting novel.
Partly that is thanks to Oates's skillful writing, which is a pleasure to read, and partly it's because of the ending; out of sheer will-power, the main character ultimately takes control of her own destiny.
And yes, I do see how the storyline might resemble a certain type of literature from the 1980s (Herman Wouk and Freda Bright spring to mind...) yet make no mistake about it : This is Real Literature.