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Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  3,609 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
The sixties and seventies witnessed the emergence of Joyce Carol Oates as one of America's foremost writers of the short story. In 1962, 'The Fine White Mist of Winter, ' composed when the author was 19 years old, appeared in The Literary Review and was selected for both the O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories of that year.

By the north gate: Edge of the world ;
Hardcover, 522 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Ontario Review Press (first published October 12th 1979)
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As You Like It by William ShakespeareAre You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy BlumeOh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. SeussTwelfth Night by William ShakespeareWhere Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
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5th out of 218 books — 22 voters
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127th out of 594 books — 351 voters

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Community Reviews

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Shades of Flannery O'Connor with this white knuckle title story that will have you squirming. Not recommended for young ladies who are home alone.
Roxy Smith
Nov 14, 2011 Roxy Smith rated it it was amazing
Oates has me convinced that I’m in the story with her characters, they are standing next to me and I can feel their fear, their irritation and even their sadness. In WAYG we get to go inside the head of Connie, a young impressionable teenager who is more concerned about her looks than her own safety, when Arnold Friend shows up at her house her first instinct is to look at herself in the mirror even though she has no idea who this strange boy is. Through Connie’s description of him, we know some ...more
I've read the title story but I'm not sure what other (early) stories of hers I've read. Liked that story, though Joyce Carol Oates' stuff is sometimes so edgy and raw it's like trying to swallow razor blades.
May 16, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I saw "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" on a list of best short stories and sought it out. It is a creepy, tense story about a teenage girl who skips a family outing to stay home alone, but she gets an unexpected visitor. The story gave me chills.
Sarah Ulrey
Dec 15, 2009 Sarah Ulrey rated it liked it
Oh boy this was creepy. I love this woman, but don't read her if you're struggling with any emotions unless you want them to get deeper and blacker. Her prose will consume you.
Gabriel C.
Nov 25, 2012 Gabriel C. rated it liked it
Shelves: shorts, rachel, 2012
I read this as some kind of harrowing inversion of Philip Roth's ouvre. It starts with a little bit of essentially uninteresting juvenilia, and then moves to a full on Portnoy (and/or Zuckerman) for a good long portion. Everything repeated itself with slightly different names so that I couldn't help but imagine this as a smeared out picture of the author herself, her early twenties to mid thirties or something. I have no idea how old Oates actually was, but that's irrelevant, I guess, for my pur ...more
Yasmeen Zahzah
May 17, 2010 Yasmeen Zahzah rated it it was amazing
This review is dedicated entirely to the title story. I've read a few of Oates' stories, however, this story is one of my favorite short stories ever. It combines two elements that truly serve (in my opinion) to engross the reader: the unspoken and timelessness. The story is grotesque and captivating in that so much of what happens or how it happens is never actually mentioned, which is definitely engaging. The reader is therefore pushed into making their own judgments, allowing only their imagi ...more
Willa Grant
Jan 05, 2009 Willa Grant rated it it was ok
I picked this up at the library, totally forgetting that I had read it years ago 'til I started to read. I didn't much like this book, I just don't care for her stories & I can't tell you why. They are well written but after reading anything from this author I feel depressed & like my soul is grubby. Bleh says I.
Larry Bassett
Jul 13, 2014 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: great for JCO short story fans
Shelves: short-stories
This is a good book to experience JCO short stories from the 1960s and 1970s. It has twenty-five selected stories from her six collected works of those decades at the beginning of her writing career.

1963: By the North Gate
1966: Upon the Sweeping Flood
1970: The Wheel of Love
1972: Marriages and Infidelities
1974: The Goddess and Other Women
1977: Night-Side

There are also two uncollected works written during that time period and an interesting four page Afterword by the author written at
Hala al- Abed
In general...
This is one of the weirdest and confusing stories that I’ve ever read. It talked about a teenage beautiful girl that her mother always brings her down, because she was watching her little girl growing up to turn into a beautiful young lady when her mother were getting old to lose her appearance. She was jealous.

Her mother always compared her with her older sister. Her father never stood up for her.

She felt alone even around her own family that’s why she turned to her friends and st
Oct 25, 2014 Katie rated it it was amazing
An easily earned 5 stars. I recommend this book of stories for anyone who hasn't read much of Joyce Carroll Oates. Be prepared to be bothered. She writes out fear as being largely legitimate,

I first read Oates when I turned 18 thanks to a creative writing class where I was given her to style-imitate but personalize (next to impossible tbh). This was the book of stories to choose from for the graded exercise.

I think the thing about Oates is she has a different way of inducing fear. Everything fe
Julia Gorning
Sep 29, 2013 Julia Gorning rated it it was amazing
This story has stuck with me because Connie's character resonates so well with my teenage self. Feeling like you live a dual-life for self-presentation, vanity, a harsh desire for recklessness, yet hesitancy to leave the security of family.. all culminated in a nightmarish encounter. A fable-like story warning to be careful what you wish for. Perhaps most disturbingly, the story is based off a real murderer who got to know everything about each of his victims after pretending to be a high school ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Liz marked it as to-read
Despite my feelings (more like prejudices that are some and somewhat not my own), I should read her earlier works just because she is a damn good writer. I've read the title story, but I hope there are other pieces that I might like better.
Apr 17, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing
Excellent collection; the title story was beautifully and creepily filmed as "Smooth Talk" with Laura Dern. Oates excels at bringing out the macabre in every day life, e.g. what happens when a 15-year-old girl. as Roger Ebert notes, "flirts in the wrong places." This book, and especially this story, will resonate with those who have had a few close encounters of the wrong kind in our teen years. The menacing stranger in the story was loosely based on a real character, Charles Schmid, "The Pied P ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Juan rated it it was amazing
Masterful writing. She subtly builds the tension in the story in such a way that you don't realize your nerves are on edge until the end of the story. Fantastic story telling. That the story is based on real events adds a extra dimension of creepiness.
Connie could be anyone's 15 year old daughter. This story is a really poignant social commentary about the impact of hyper-sexualized popular film and music on on adolescent children's perceptions about sex and love.
Apr 30, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had to pick one word that links all of the short stories in this collection, that word would be yearning. Oates is a master of getting into people's heads and knowing what it is they yearn for and how they yearn for it. The emotional tone of these stories is quite broad. From touching to frightening, Oates can evoke it all vividly. For stories written at the earlier part of her writing career, they are extremely impressive. She really started out a master.
Jan 17, 2011 Serendipitous rated it it was amazing

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" may be my favorite short story of all time. I remember being stunned by its darker themes and originality when I first read it in college. I don't know what gave rise to the idea for the story in Oates's mind, but the deeper feelings behind it - and my own interpretions - have stayed with me many years down the road.
Chris Mascaro
Jan 05, 2013 Chris Mascaro rated it it was amazing
This was a surprising like for me. I liked the story lines of most the stories, and they are easy to read and have a lot of 'thinking' and depth to the plots.

I had to read this for a class, and thought I would end up skimming this. It was definitely enjoyable.
Jeff Hobbs
Jun 03, 2016 Jeff Hobbs marked it as to-read
Shelves: quick-read
Read so far:

Edge of the world --
The fine white mist of winter --
First views of the enemy --
At the seminary --
What death with love should have to do --
Upon the sweeping flood --
In the region of ice --
Where are you going, where have you been? --
Unmailed, unwritten letters --
Accomplished desires --
How I contemplated the world from the Detroit House of Correction and began my life over again --
Four summers --
Love and death --
By the river --
Did you ever slip on red blood? --
The lady with the pet dog
Mar 11, 2012 Cindy added it
This was another attempt at short stories. I only read a few, none of which captured my interest much. I think I should stick to novels.
Mike Goldstein
Jan 02, 2016 Mike Goldstein rated it liked it
Way before Joyce Carol Oates made a fool of herself on Twitter, she was obviously an incredible writer. These stories are so well-crafted, so dark and enveloping. They're also unbelievably repetitive.

You should not go into a story featuring two little girls knowing that one is going to MURDER the other. But you will, and this is not a spoiler. You will know. It will be obvious. It seems like there was a long period in Oates's career where she wanted to write about nothing but literal murder. It'
Dec 28, 2008 Tracy rated it it was amazing
The pacing of this short story is phenomenal...and disturbing. Quite haunting.
Jul 07, 2013 Bap rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the collection of short stories which are uneven but the best are very, very good. Here you will find: "where are you Going, Where have you been?"; How I contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Detention; and my favorite. "Four Summers". The last is vignettes of a girl across four summers not necessarily contiguous; from when she was about ten with her father at a lakeside bar with row boats outside, the parents drinking and the. Kids clamoring for a ride in a row boat. The fa ...more
Russell Bittner
Aug 06, 2013 Russell Bittner rated it it was amazing
If Henry James is the master of psychological realism, Joyce Carol Oates is its mistress. And I, for one, find Professor Oates’s prose far less tedious and eminently more readable.

In metaphysics, there’s an age-old rhetorical question: “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?” I’ve frankly never cared for any discussion of the question — hence, to my mind at least, it remains rhetorical. A possible corollary where Ms. Oates’s stories are concerned, however, might well be “In how many ways
Sep 17, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Five stars for the title story, which is fantastic. I'm not terribly unique in saying that Joyce Carol Oates is on my short list of great modern authors. With incisive writing she makes you feel vulnerability and fear, and then surrender to a diabolic fate.

After reading the story, you might enjoy this short analysis I stumbled across. It's a nice frame to explore symbolism is Oates' story:
Joyce Li
I think that this story portrays the ways of a teenager, a freshman in high school, accurately. Connie's avoidance with her family and the "need" to party with strangers at night, and leaning more on her own understanding of the world reflects many teenagers' lives. The moral to be taken away is obviously, don't forsake the people around you, because when you really need them, you will realize how much they really mean to you.
Sep 01, 2012 Lea rated it it was amazing
The title story is one of the most powerful short stories I've ever read.
This is a horror story of sorts, although certainly not a typical one. The tension in the story lies in the protagonist's inability to resist the directives of the antagonist, despite her revulsion of both him and the situation. His power is both bewildering and absolute.
One important connection that it seems most here were unaware of, is the numbers written on Arnold Friend's car: 33, 19, 17. These numbers refer to the b
Jan 16, 2015 Egija rated it it was amazing
Well developed story between reality and fantasy. It can be questioned who really is the mystical character Arnold Friend - a devil, imagination from a dream or something else. The protagonist shows the rebellion against adulthood. It is said that the story was influenced by Bob Dylan's song "It's all Over Now, Baby Blue" as the story has references from the lyrics.
Jun 26, 2011 Neil rated it liked it
read the original short story. still reading the ancillary articles about the true events that inspired it and critiques (assuming they heap praise to be included in a book about a short story). overall, i am underimpressed, although it could be that my wife (overly?) hyped it, or this could be one of those cases where it was groundbreaking in its time (the '60s), but our culture is throughly jaded to psychopaths by 2011 (saw an article asserting that some effective CEOs were clinical psychopath ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Claudia rated it it was ok
This is about a crime that's about to happen. You get drawn to the story but in the end I felt It wasn't interesting enough. There was no real shape to the story in the end. It asked you the question: If the Doom's Lord comes to your door what would you do? In this story the answer was quite unsatisfactory! 2 stars.
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So, Did Connie die at the end? 1 1 May 25, 2016 03:52AM  
Goodreads Librari...: several different books combined 11 38 Jul 15, 2014 05:50AM  
What's The Name o...: Literature Class [s] 9 56 Aug 25, 2011 06:05AM  
  • Where You'll Find Me: And Other Stories
  • The Collected Stories
  • The Swimmer
  • Everyday Use
  • The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories
  • Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates
  • The Rocking Horse Winner (Travelman Classics)
  • A White Heron
  • A&P: Lust in the Aisles
  • More of This World or Maybe Another
  • I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories
  • The Secret Goldfish: Stories
  • Twin Study: Stories
  • Miss Brill
  • The Minister's Black Veil
  • Girl Trouble: Stories
  • Hunters in the Snow
  • Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale
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
More about Joyce Carol Oates...

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