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Wild Nights!: New Stories

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  674 ratings  ·  136 reviews
This is an alternate edition of the book.
Paperback, 235 pages
Published 2008 by Ecco
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Jul 15, 2008 Gina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary Geeks
Recommended to Gina by: The Washington Post Book Review
"Wild Nights" hardly describes the tone of this latest Oates fiction. She takes her title from a very uncharacteristic poem by Emily Dickinson which first of all cannot be sung to "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Secondly, the poem's theme is unbridled passion as if Em slipped out (metaphorically) from behind her Amherst hedges to imagine such a relationship.

The books is comprised of stories about the last days of Poe, Dickenson, Mark Twain and Papa Hemingway. Oates knows and likely reveres all the...more
Chris Blocker
Joyce Carol Oates and I have an odd relationship—purely literary, of course. Many times her works have left me quite satisfied. Others have been disappointing. I know this is not a so much a reflection of her talent; rather, it is her push (a need?) to publish what seems like a million books in her lifetime. When an author is churning out five books a year, the reader should expect it to be hit-or-miss. Yet, I come back for more. For all the nights I’ve spent awake mulling over lackluster tales,...more
Wow. That is an incredibly sexy poem by Emily D. (any relation to Angie D.?)


So, in "Poe Posthumous; or, The Light-House" E.A.P. is - ding-ding - (or is that tap-tap?) a lighthouse keeper. ...I'd be fired if that were my job. A meditation on loneliness and fear. And what do they lead to? They are the tributaries of madness. Like, you know, being buried alive only without the scent of cheap pine. At any rate: a masterful Lovecraftian pastiche that positions Oates as the High Priestess of Amer...more
Eerie short stories of the last days of the lives of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway. This is my first read by Oates and I have to say that despite the morbid, disturbing stories, I was mesmerized by her writing.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Peterson
Joyce Carol Oates notes where the title for this volume comes from, as she quotes verse from Emily Dickinson:

"Wild Nights--Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!"

This is a book, as the subtitle indicates, about the "Last days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway." As such, there is considerable idiosyncrasy and fantasy here. Poe's and Dickinson's last days, of course, were nothing as portrayed here. However, each short story does capture something of their mi...more
My three star rating is a compromise. In many ways, Wild Nights! is brilliant. Oates' uses biographical and autobiographical material as well as the various authors' writings to create five unsettling short stories. Told from the point of view of the writers - Mark Twain, Henry James and Ernest Hemingway, the stories, set near the end of the authors' lives, document their failing powers, their disappointments and their despair. "Poe Posthumous, Or, The Light-House" begins the day of Edgar Allan...more
I tend to be much more on the same wavelength with JCO when it comes to her literary criticism and journal-writing, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect here (but then, isn't that always the case with this particular author?). The title of this collection really doesn't at all begin to adequately convey the nature of these stories: where one might expect rather benign historical sketches come these really odd, often unsettling reimaginings inspired by something connected with said author. Per...more
Joyce Carol Oates. Wild Nights! New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

I’m not a big fan of Oates, but I did think Blackwater was brilliant and haunting, even though it was probably one of her shortest works. In Blackwater, Oates imagines the last moments of Mary Jo Kopechne (July 26, 1940 – July 18, 1969), who died in a car driven by Senator Ted Kennedy on Chappaquiddick Island. (I have nothing written about it so my guess is that I read it before I started keeping a book journal.) Wild Nights! has a hi...more
This book is definitely an experiment (Joyce Carol Oates writes stories of five American authors in their own styles), but it never feels like an academic exercise. An excellent reminder of how imitation (or homage) can be done best by the observant writer. She plays around with the idea of the public author - that person the public believes they possess, and the private self, whoever that may be. The voices she creates resonate, but I'm always wondering about the real - a hazard in this type of...more
I was really disappointed with this one. Part of it is my fault, because I thought (from the title) that this was a nonfiction book about the listed authors’ final days. Instead it’s a fictional short story collection with Oates’ imagined accounts of their later days.

Each of the five stories deals with one author. Poe’s story never seemed very focused to me. Twain’s story was incredibly creepy and I wasn’t a fan. I’m hoping Oates doesn’t believe he was actually like the way she wrote him, becau...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
wild indeed! what's crazy is that jco opens this book with a story about the last days of ea poe, and i was also reading, "the poe shadow" by matthew pearl. i didn't really pay attention to what the subject of the novel was about, i just chose it because it was the only jco novel that i hadn't yet read on the shelf at my local library. imagine my surprise when i am catapulted into the dark days of poe, slowly going crazy while manning a lonely lighthouse.

jco does something really great here; not...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Oates is the consummate voyeur, whether she's exploring the worlds of murderers, dysfunctional teens, or alienated women. Here, in this sordid look at literary greats, each with his or her damaged psyche, she reimagines their final days. Most critics lauded Oates's ability to imitate the distinctive styles of the writers

Joanna Mcadam

Joyce Carol Oates is a beast. Not only does she dazzle in her own style; here she also dazzles in the styles of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway. Her audacity would be annoying if she wasn't so good. Very enjoyable read.
Jen Selinsky
Wild Nights! is a compilation of five short fictional stories that describe the last days of Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. While Edgar Allen Poe’s life is narrated through diary entries, Mark Twain corresponds with an admirer through letters. The author also does a good job of describing the troubled lives of Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. The story about Emily Dickinson has an interesting twist because it depicts a robotic reproduction of th...more
This short story collection examines the last days and nights of five prolific American writers, from Poe to Hemingway. Together these five tales describe five eminient writers on the brink of despair and madness that culminates in their deaths. The stories vary in the extent to which they depart from realistic portraits of these authors' deaths. While Oates's treatment of Hemingway's death could conceivably be a factual rendering, those of Poe and Dickinson are far more fanicful, and depart fro...more
Jim Leckband
It takes chutzpah to write five tales about these most celebrated American authors - Poe, Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Twain, and Hemingway. It also takes talent to be successful at it, and Oates has it. Each one of these stories are very different in tone, structure, viewpoint and intents - it is kind of a condensed masterclass in story.

The only thing that seems to be a constant is that the stories concern the ends of the lives (or even the afterlives) of the authors - the "Wild Nights". Poe h...more
Brilliant Reimaging by Oates of the Last Days of Five Noted American Writers

"Wild Nights!", Joyce Carol Oates' latest short story collection, lives up to its title well beyond the reader's wildest imagination, offering tales told in the voices of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain"), Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. Bittersweet, macabre and compelling, these stories are not mere imitations of the literary styles of each of these distinguished American writers, but are...more
Joyce Carol Oates is as always flawless in her presentation. We are taken on an imaginary trip through the last days of some of the greatest literary figures in history and brought to a poignant turning point with each of them. As always the imagination of Joyce Carol Oates is rich with ideas. In particular the futuristic idea of Emily Dickinson as a robot brought to life in a modern day household is disturbing yet fascinating to read. To read of Henry James encountering soldiers of the First W...more
Joyce Carol Oates has reimagined the final days of five important American authors: Poe, Dickinson, Twain, Henry James and Hemingway. The stories of Twain, James and Hemingway are the ones that stick closer to the historical record, while those of Poe and Dickinson take flight into the fantastic.

"Poe, Posthomous" imagines that Poe spent his final days not in Baltimore but in an isolated lighthouse off the coast of Chile, hoping that the solitude would allow him to produce an important philosoph...more
In these five stories, Oates imagines the final days of five iconic American writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. Each of these is both an homage to the writer, and an often ironic look at his or her work. The Poe story, for example, was suggested by a one-page draft Poe left behind at his death, and the result is certainly something we might imagine Poe writing. Similarly, the Hemingway story has the cadence and repetition of his prose. The T...more
5 short stories imagining the lives of 5 American authors: Poe, Dickinson, James, Twain, and Hemingway.

The Poe story is my least favorite. Poe is isolated and goes mad.

The Dickinson story is my favorite. A couple orders a replica of Dickinson. It walks and talks and is programmed to act like Dickinson. Would you like Emily Dickinson to live with you? This story made me laugh and creeped me out, too. If you read just one story from the book, I suggest this one.

The Samuel Clemens story changed my...more
This book consists of five short stories -- each of which has been published elsewhere previously -- each JCO's imagining of the final days of a famous American writer: Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and "Papa" Hemingway. The stories range in tone from macabre to mawkish -- in JCO's eyes, each of these writers is an emotional wreck (not counting ED who is actually a robot in that chapter, so it doesn't count -- and no, this is not a spoiler since you find that out rig...more
'Wild Nights!' The latest from Joyce Carol Oates, prolific novelist and essayist, is a dizzying hall-of-mirrors where she presides over a literary seance, calling from the deep five legends of American letters: Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Ernest Hemingway. They are each reflected, or deliberately distorted, in the mirror of Oates' consciousness. In five chapters -- discrete short-stories, essentially -- Oates, herself 70 years old, fictionalizes the last days o...more
Ok...twice I've tried to read the short story on post-death Poe and twice it made me sick and I can't finish cause it is very disgusting.

So going on to the Emily Dickinson short story. It is set in modern times and seems to be about a robot Emily Dickinson which is kind of disappointing really.

I was hoping for Victorian sick bed Emily, not some robot that a modern family buys for entertainment.

JCO is very hit or miss in her short stories. She's a much better novel writer.

Tried so hard to get int...more
Hated it. First off, I find the title misleading. I was really thinking I would find some stories about the historical last days of various famous authors. Instead I found some bizarre sci-fi fantasy speculative fiction involving monsters, robots, pedophiles, gay humiliations, and whatever was going on in the Hemingway section, which I couldn't bring myself to read.

The book isn't actually terrible, but it was not at all what I was expecting. The fact that each story is written in an approximatio...more
Jun 11, 2008 Laurie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travis
I am prostrate on the ground writhing from the bleak(ness) that is this collection of stories. But I love every one of them. I'd recommend this collection. When you're feeling particulary good about life, just to balance out the emotional blow the end of each story delivers.

Fun Features:

Elmira, NY (my alma mater location), referenced in Twain story, as location of Quarry Farm, actual location where Twain spent much of his married-life summers. Twain's study is now located on Elmira's campus.

I really enjoyed the stories in this book, particularly the Poe and Dickinson stories. I thought that they were very unique takes on their lives and in the Poe in particular captured his style particularly well, although with a more modern feel.

I thought all of the stories were good, but by the Hemingway story at the end, the luster was wearing off. Maybe its because I've never cared much for Hemingway, that I didn't care much for his story. I guess I didn't hate it, it just seemed that some ele...more
Not entirely sure what I thought of this, as the stories weren't all of the same quality. The Poe story was really quite twisted. If you will forgive me the spoiler, it involves Edgar Allen Poe fucking a one-eyed amphibian. The Dickinson story was one of JCO's first and hopefully last forays into science fiction. The Twain story was naff, in my opinion. The last two stories on James and Hemingway were a lot better in my opinion and they read less like exercises written by a creative writing stud...more
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure...more
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“There is an hour when you realize: here is what you have been given. More than this, you won't receive. And what this is, what your life has come to, will be taken from you. In time.” 23 likes
“Writing! The activity for which the only adequate bribe is the possibility of suicide, one day.” 15 likes
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