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Wild nights! : stories about the last days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James and H
Joyce Carol Oates
Adult Fiction OATES

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this intriguing collection, Oates writes fictional death scenes for five canonical American writers, adopting elements of their signature styles with mixed results. The Poe story, written as a diary in the months after Poe's death, doesn't quite dole out its revelations with Poe-like abandon. Emily Dickinson's end is set not in 19th-century New England but in the 21st-century New Jersey suburbs, where an Emily Dickinson "replicant," complete with enigmatical utterances, is purchased by a tax attorney and his wife to liven up the house, but ends up highlighting the banality of their existences. Samuel Clemens's death is set, menacingly, against his penchant for befriending adolescent girls, a habit deplored by his spinster daughter, Clara. The prize story, however, is "Papa at Ketchum 1961," where Oates inhabits Hemingway's terse style to show the great man going down in a paroxysm of psychoses. This brutal turning of Hemingway against himself sparks a torrent of rage like that of early Oates novels such as Them. It marks an explosive ending to Oates's peculiar fantasy game, one that begs to be treated at length. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Oates (The Gravedigger's Daughter) here builds stories around five great writers, emulating the style of each as she attempts to imagine what they were thinking at the end of their lives."Poe Posthumour: Or, the Light-House" is the best of the five, with Poe becoming a lighthouse keeper in isolated Chile and confronting his loneliness in new and bizarre ways. In "The Master at St. Bartholomew's Hospital 1914-1916," Henry James is forced to step into a ward full of wounded soldiers. At first repulsed, he perseveres and discovers a compassion he did not realize he possessed. "Grandpa Clemens & Angel Fish 1906" is based on Samuel Clemens's relationship with young teenage girls, which, although supposedly innocent, subjects Clemens to a possible lawsuit. "Papa at Ketchum, 1961" centers on Hemingway's planning his suicide, while "EDickinsonRepuliLuxe" imagines that people can purchase androids based on their favorite author. The Krims choose Emily Dickinson, but she seems to be more of a maid than a poet and wants to be set free as they become more and more frustrated with her. These stories generate fresh insights into the themes and personalities of these authors, and many readers will be hoping for a sequel with five different authors. Recommended.-Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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