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The Female of the Species

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  890 ratings  ·  116 reviews
A young wife is home alone when the phone rings in “So Help Me God.” Is the strange voice flirting with her from the other end of the line her jealous husband laying a trap, or a stranger who knows entirely too much about her? In “Madison at Guignol” an unhappy fashionista discovers a secret door inside her favorite clothing store and insists the staff let her enter. But e ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 15th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,645)
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Madeline
Reading this book is like having a nightmare. No, actually it's like having nine separate nightmares.

That's not critisism, by the way. This was the only way I could think of to describe these short stories. It says right in the title that these are "tales of mystery and suspense", and believe me, when Joyce Carol Oates tells you you're going to read a book of suspensful mystery stories, she is not kidding around. Each story in this book focuses on a woman doing something horrible, violent, or ju
...more
Katherine
Creepy! For me, that's not so good. I'll be honest; this is the first JCO I've read. I grew up in New Jersey and my mom used to tell me about seeing JCO at the public library being a real pill. So I haven't been drawn to her work, and this try didn't warm me to her.
علياء بسيوني
تخبرك الكاتبة فى كثير من القصص عن غموض الأنثى..تحيرك معها طفلة وناضجة وعجوزاً..لكنها لاتحل اللغز ابداً
Anastasia
So Help Me God - ★★★★
A young woman married to an abusive and devilish man might be pushed to react.

The Banshee - ★★★★★
A suspenseful tale of a young girl of six attempts to garner the attention of her wealthy socialite parents.

Doll: A Romance of the Mississippi - ★★★★★
Doll, along with her father, travel through seedy towns along the Mississippi leaving a bloody trail in their wake.

Madison at Guignol - ★★★★
A wealthy, vain New York City socialite craves the approval of her peers, to the point wh
...more
Laurie
This collection of short storis examines the capacity of women to do evil. Bringing us into the depths of horror, Oates's protagonists range in age, interest, and situation. We meet a six-year-old girl, a young nurse, a middle-aged fashionista, and an elderly woman dying in a nursing home, among others. What unites all of these women across their stories are the desperate personal circumstances in which they find themselves, and the realization that the only path out is a dark and disturbing one ...more
Nilay
I was first interested in reading this book because most of the narrators were female, so it would be easy for me to relate to them. Many of the stories were filled with mystery and suspense just as the title suggested, but at the same time realistic which made it even the more scarier. The stories also had a lot of variety in them; the narrators' ages and the settings were different.
Annisa
This was one of the books that taught me that people are basically savages waiting to be unleashed.
Jim Algie
I often judge a thriller or tale of suspense by how many times I miss my stop on the subway while ensnared in the serpentine twists and hairpin turns of the plot. In the case of Joyce Carol Oates’ collection, The Female of the Species, that meant more than a bit of backtracking. One night after work, oblivious to the crush of commuters, while rereading the longest and most complex tale, “Tell Me You Forgive Me,” I came to my senses four stops after my station.

The sensuality of her writing and h
...more
Mandy Moody
My theory about collections of short stories is that the authors that write them are sick - that sometimes they have characters or stories stuck in their heads and that writing short stories is how they exercise them - like demons.
I mean that it the most admiring way.
The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates proves my theory. A collection of short stories - each a disturbing tale of dysfunction, anger, violence, desperation or sadness.
I loved it.
Stories of women pushed to extreme behaviors
...more
Marsha
Are women victims or monsters? Are they to be wooed or crushed? Can anyone ever understand what’s going on in their minds?

Ms. Oates's stories reveal women who are laws unto themselves, at once beautiful, fascinating, mysterious and dangerous in their unpredictability. Edgy, disturbing and nerve-wracking, this collection of suspense tales cannot be put down in mid-read. They call, sirenlike, to be finished even as we fear the ending. They are rough edged and harsh to the point where we want to c
...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
I picked this book up a few years back after seeing a quickie review in Rue Morgue magazine. I finally got around to reading them last week. A fine set of (mostly) noir stories told from the female perspective. I thought they were all compelling. Favorites were: "So Help Me God" - a woman takes creepy phone calls while her husband is out on night-shift patrol, "Doll - A Romance of the Mississippi" - a child-like prostitute meets clients armed with a hidden razor, "Tell Me You Forgive Me?" - Betr ...more
Medina
This is the first I've read of Joyce Carol Oates and I didn't know what to expect, but I didn't expect the psychological jolt. Oates's stories are subtle and obvious at the same time; they don't explain themselves fully. And they're violent and sexual- Intense- in a way that differs from violence and sex in male-authored books.

The first story, So Help Me God, was my true introduction to Oates and I didn't expect the story, which tells of a woman in an abusive relationship that is getting lewd p
...more
Thomas Bruso
I prefer Joyce Carol Oates when she pens short fiction, and in the case of THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, a collection of nine riveting suspense and mystery stories, Oates knows how to keep her readers in a trance, literally flying through pages to see what happens next.

This particular collection of stories is well-structured and unputdownable that I had difficulty tearing myself away from the beautifully and haunting narratives. In the first outing, "So Help me God," my favorite story in the book,
...more
Ryan G
I have a few friends, whose opinions I normally trust, who have been prodding me into reading Joyce Carol Oates. I'm not really sure why I was hesitant at first, maybe it was as simple as having other books I would rather read instead. Anyway, long story short, I tend to buy quite a few books at The Dollar Tree, well because they are a dollar. Sometimes they have absolutely nothing I would ever want to read, most of the time they have one or two books that if I had to pay more than a dollar, I p ...more
Nicole G.
This was good, but not her best work. A collection of short stories, with females as their protagonists. "Doll: A romance of the Mississippi" was rather creepy, but other than that, the rest of the them were just median. I don't think there are any JCO stories that are bad, per se, but these weren't as gripping as other short story collections of hers.
Lene
While many of the stories in this collection were indeed unsettling, I found the examinations of the capacity for evil interesting. I think JCO is a master storyteller with an insight into human nature that is both keen and non-judgemental. Whether pushed or coerced, there is truly no telling what one may be capable of doing.
Mohamed Ateaa
كتاب ممتع للغاية
اهمهم القصة الاخيرة و اطولهم ايضا

محمد عطية
Sandra
I love Oates' writing style. Her fragmented sentences. (See, I can do it too, and it really is easier) The way she can paint something all nicey nice. Then slowly morph into nasty nasty. (whoops, I did it again!) But I didn't care much for any of the short stories. They are edgy and evil, but that must have been her intent. However, I am a very big fan of Joyce Carol Oates, so maybe I should be giving it 5 stars, because, as usual, her writing is superb, and she delivers what she proposed.
Christine
This collection of short stories involves female leads. Only one story is told through a male's voice, and his is a voice that loves women unconditionally - a voice that invents adoring relationships with women he doesn't know.

I felt like I flew through this book because some of the stories were so captivating you wanted to race to the end to find out what happened. A few stories stick out as particularly good - The Haunting (about a girl haunted by ghost rabbits in their cellar), The Hunger (ab
...more
Sherri
Joyce Carol Oates is not only a prolific author of novels she also is a big name in the short story realm as well. However, I'd say her short stories often seem to be more novella than short story. I think that is one of the reasons I like reading her books of short stories, I never feel short-changed on character development, story-line or the rich way she tells stories: one line after another sneaking into you and holding your attention till the very next sentence grabs your attention away.

The
...more
Carolyn
"Is Doll your actual name? (Doll is frequently asked.)
Doll is trained to say, Yes.
Yes, but you may call me anything you wish. If calling me by another girl's name is what you wish. (Doll giggles. Doll nibbles at the end of one of her pigtails, winningly positioned over her slender shoulder.)" (from "Doll: A Romance of the Mississippi")

The title of the book, combined with the red and black cover of the edition I read, evoked a black widow spider, appropriate for this collection of short storie
...more
Peter Herrmann
Brilliant. Intriguing. These stories are well crafted and make you want to turn the page. JCO can get into the psychology of many different kinds of personalities. Some of the stories are creepy ... which I happen to like. She also has the ability - when she wants - of talking over the heads of the character directly to the reader (i.e., the character doesn't have a clue what's going on, but you the reader sure do).
J
*"Doll" was the only story that really fit the description of book.
(FROM JACKET)A young wife is home alone when the phone rings in "So Help Me God". Is the strange voice flirting with her from the other end of the line her jealous husband laying a trap, or a stranger who knows entirely too much about her? In "Madison at Guignol" an unhappy fashionista discovers a secret door inside her favorite clothing store and insists the staff let her enter. But even her fevered imagination cannot anticipate
...more
Sharon
Sep 18, 2011 Sharon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Darlene
Shelves: read-in-2011
I am not sure I like Carol Oates style of writing for it is quite different than I am used to. At times I needed to back track to completely understand what I was reading, but all in all the stories are quirky, intriquing, shocking, outrageous, suspenseful, gross, etc, etc. I agree with 2 people's reviews who said "Most of the suspense was wrapped up in the thought." & "...ambiguous endings that leave you pondering". The perfect example of an ambiguous ending was in Banshee. She leaves you w ...more
Hayley

Oate’s ‘The Female of the Species’ is a collection of short stories all centering around dangerous (sometimes even murderous) women. She paints a picture of a Kevorkian nurse in ‘The Angel of Mercy,’ a serial killer, Lolita-like prostitute pimped out by her father in ‘Doll,’ and a woman who intends the fight back from domestic violence in the first story. It’s a feminist text, but its also a horror text.
Oates uses mystery and suspense in order to propel this novel. As someone who mainly writes
...more
CherylFaith Taylor
I love most of Joyce Carol Oates' Short Stories, and have read *many* of them, although I have not listed them all. I love the realism and strength with which she imbues her characters; I love the darkness she insinuates into many of her Stories. Many readers have lauded the Lady Joyce as "literary," while others have described her in a lesser light. While I am not thrilled at several of her novels I have read (or endeavored to read), I think she is a grand Story-Teller, one of the Greats of our ...more
Eva Nickelson
The subtitle for this book is "Tales of Mystery and Suspense" and I believe that it gave away the ending in most of the books. Most of the nine stories each contained characters (usually women) lashing out at their imagined abusers by abusing them. If you didn't know that these tales were just going to be about the most horrible aspects of humanity, then the stories may be shocking, but it wasn't as suspenseful as it might have been. Most of the suspense was wrapped up in the thought: I know whe ...more
Gaby
Apr 17, 2014 Gaby added it
This was one of the first books I've read of Joyce Carol Oates. I have to say that I was both captivated and haunted by her complex, dynamic female characters that populate her short stories. If you like psychological horror-esque books, then I would defiantly recommend reading this.
Lauren
The fact that this lands on my "didn't finish" shelf doesn't mean to reflect on the quality of Oates' writing (it's excellent) but that the book was just too disturbing for my tastes. I guess I don't like horror books anymore. I loved the Fear Street and Christopher Pike novels in my teens so I thought that this would be an elegant step up but there was just something so dark about this novel that I had to shelve it. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for tales of surprising and sometimes unspeakabl ...more
Radwa
مش عارفة ليه اختاروا العنوان ده على الرغم من إن مش كل القصص فى الكتاب كانت عن الأنثى , مثلا ملاك الحنق البطل فيها رجل مشوه.
القصص على كل حال جيدة عدا فى نهاياتها, تحس إن النهاية مبتسرة و إن القصة لسه ليها تكملة لدرجة إنى دورت فى أرقام الصفحات علشان أتأكد إن مفيش صفحة ناقصة.
القصص الحلوة اللى فى الكتاب هى ملاك الحنق,جوع,فليساعدنى الرب, مهرجة فى شارع ماديسون .معرفش ليه الاسم لآخر قصة بس المهم إن الست كانت نهايتها سوداء و متهيألى القصة دى كان ممكن د. أحمد خالد توفيق يكتبها- بشكل أحسن طبعا.
قلة التقييم
...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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