Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sourland” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  548 ratings  ·  106 reviews
A gripping and moving new collection of stories that reimagines the meaning of loss—through often unexpected and violent means.

Joyce Carol Oates is not only one of our most important novelists and literary critics, she is also an unparalleled master of the short story. Sourland—sixteen previously uncollected stories that explore how the power of violence, loss, and grief
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Ecco (first published August 27th 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sourland, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sourland

Room by Emma DonoghueThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootOne Day by David NichollsFreedom by Jonathan Franzen
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010
76th out of 100 books — 637 voters
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol OatesBlonde by Joyce Carol OatesThe Falls by Joyce Carol Oatesthem by Joyce Carol OatesMy Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Best of Joyce Carol Oates
38th out of 104 books — 44 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,482)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Joyce Carol Oates, where have you been all my life? For years I looked down the long, long rows of her books lining library shelves, but never read something of hers until now. Maybe I found her prolificacy and apparent versatility intimidating. I am glad I waited until my thirties, and I am now looking forward to that seemingly endless row in the "O" section.

About Sourland.

This woman USES words. They fight against her. They bite, they scratch, they maul her and still, against their will, she
I REALLY like Joyce Carol Oates. I mean, REALLY. She's probably my favorite contemporary American fiction writer. I haven't delved too much into her novels, but I've read just about every short story collection she's published. She's amazing.

That said, I could not finish this book. The stories have Oates' typical stamp: They shine a light in the hearts of darkness that exist in all of us. And by "light," I don't mean a warm, redemptive, healing light; I mean a harsh light of exposure that lays o
If her vision gets any clearer she's gonna burst into flames.
Eddie Whitlock
Joyce Carol Oates is awesome.

This collection of "short stories" includes some things that I would probably not call stories, but character studies, vignettes or concept pieces. I love everything she has done and I love these, too. If you have not read Oates, I do not recommend this as a starting point. If you are a fan, this is highly recommended.
Margot Note
It's JCO. Of course I'm rating it five stars!
Written after the death of her husband of 46 years, Joyce Carol Oates' A Widow's Story: A Memoir (2011) and Sourland: Stories (2010) cover similar ground. A thesis could be written, and considering Oates' prominence in American letters may well be, about how she uses the two different forms — short stories and memoir — to synthesize experiences, observations, emotions and images and transform them into literature.

In A Widow's Story, the reader enters Oates' grieving — a harrowing, exhausting exp
Dora Levy Mossanen
"Sourland" (Ecco: $25.99) is an apt title for the latest collection of short stories from Joyce Carol Oates, which includes tales of violence, murder, abuse, rape, beating, guilt, grief and a series of relationships -- some ordinary, others bizarre -- that invariably go sour. The loss of a spouse and the complicated ways in which guilt shapes the acts of the remaining spouse play an important role in these stories. These grieving women willingly step into the arms of monsters and misfits, instig ...more
This book of short stories has taught me somthing about myself and that somthing is : I do not like Short Stories.
So this was not the book for me, and maybe Joyce Carol Oates was not the author I should be reading when my attitude towards short stories is luke warm at best. I have read that Joyce Carol Oates is a master of the short story and that may be true, I apparently am not one to say. They are well written but I find Short Stories so unsatisfying, like a salad for dinner.I know this will
I'm going to do this story-wise.
1. Pumpkin-Head: Woah. SO disturbing. It begins so ordinarily, and then WHAM.
2. The Story of the Stabbing: Same incident, multiple versions. I've heard that before.
3. The Babysitter: Creepy.
4. Bonobo Momma: Whatever.
5. Bitch: Pointless.
6. Amputee: Really good until the end. What happened there?!
7. The Beating: Disturbing again. So she chose not to tell anyone because she was so relieved to see her father alive.
8. Bounty Hunter: I don't know what happened.
9. The
Mario Rufino
O meu texto sobre o livro para o Diário Digital:
Not one of her better recent efforts. I understand that the majority of her protagonists are widows and that this may (or may not) somewhat have sprung from the death of her longtime husband. I enjoyed Dear Husband more than this collection, but I still love Joyce Carol Oates. I'm looking forward to her memoir, soon to be published.
Danielle Mathieson
She leaves me so drained. Loved the amputee librarian story, the pumpkinhead rape, and the tense title story.
"All that she had dreaded in Sourland, had happened."
I wanted to read something haunting and modern. I sure did get that. Although it was a collection of short stories, at the end of the read, all of those stories melded into one great horrifying modern day nightmare. Her themes are singular and recurring which seemed redundant to have such similar narratives. As if reading a rewrite of a previous story. But no one I have read can write and convey the experiences she pulls her characters though in such a way. All of her stories start out rolling a ...more
Meh. Couple stories at the front of the book were good. Most weren't my cup of tea.
I'll admit it took me a really long time to read this book. Several times I wanted to just stop but I kept going megastar I felt I already invested time in starting it. Each story was a little more creepy than the last, although not creepy scary, just uncomfortable. It was a bit dark but I'm learning that that is this authors style of writing. It is a collection of stories all dealing with grief, guilt, or loneliness. the characters were will work but some of the situations were not that believa ...more
Nancy Doerrer
What's not to love? Absolutely mesmerizing! Borrowing from a review on, "this is a trenchant book of cruel fairy tales in which people are severely tested, profoundly punished and tragically transformed". Several stories are about women who are frail and unprotected (ex: sheltered widows) and others feature women who are dangerous. The stories are dark, even horrifying, but impossible to put down and written with such insight into the human psyche. Relationships provide great fodder f ...more
Sourland is a series of short stories that leave a sour taste in your mouth because of their subject matter. In the book's title story Sourland, a recently widowed woman finds herself captured and locked in a room in the deep woods of Minnesota where no one will find her. Her captor? A horrifically disfigured man from her past.

Amputee tells the story of a young librarian who is missing a leg from an accident in her youth who finds love - but only from a man who is fascinated with her stump. Ever
George Kulz
Joyce Carol Oates's writing in this book is superb! I love her style, and her vivid language, and her complex and brilliantly drawn characters.

There are two issues I have with the stories in this book, however, that caused me to mark it as low as I did. The first is that I found many of the stories are not really fully-formed to me. Usually you get some sense of a resolution, or a change in character, or something by the end, but these stories didn't see to follow that. The other, and more impo
OK, I revised it from 5 to 4 stars. Only because I think the "Amputee" story is a tough read, & perhaps should have been placed a bit further along-- after you've already been hooked & are game to see this book all the way through. It's an ugly story, but worth reading just for the insight into the character provided on the final page.

I so disagree with reviewers who've said the collection is 'all about' widows, or missing father figures etc. There are 16 stories here which feature a wi
Melissa Darcey
The first thing I ever read of Joyce was a short story, so her short story collections will always have a special place in my heart. I've read a few collections and this was not one of her better ones.

This collection is separated in 3 sections and for me, the main distinction between each one, was their level of interest.

The first section was by far the best section. This collection starts off with a bang. I recommend reading "Pumpkin-Head," "The Story of the Stabbing," and "Amputee." These were
Shirley Sillars
“Sourland" explores the many ways in which the characters find themselves either underneath or on top of a major upheaval. There are multiple examinations of the newly widowed; a disfigured child whose beautiful mother chooses a modeling and fashion career over her caretaking and cannot seem to cope with anything in life that she cannot control; a father who becomes lost in the world – and loses his son – following a corporate downsizing; the heated affair between a married man and an alluring w ...more
Nanette Bulebosh
More provocative short stories from the prolific master of fiction, Joyce Carol Oates. Some of these were previously published in The New Yorker and other publications.

Like much of Oates' fiction, most of these stories are dark, depressing, or just plain weird, which for me has always been part of her attraction. Little is resolved at the end of them, but they usually leave us with greater insight into the human condition, not to mention awe at the author's imagination and her ability to see so
Sue Russell
Here's my in print also. I've just upped the stars from 3 to 4 because these stories really stayed with me more than most others I've read, by assignment or "for pleasure."

Oates, Joyce Carol. Sourland. Ecco: HarperCollins. Sept. 2010. c.384p. ISBN 978-0-06-199652-8. $25.99. F

The cover’s depiction of the Grim Reaper creates a sense of foreboding that the collection itself does nothing to dispel. In these 16 stories, Oates explores loss and grief and its attendant mental derangement—
Susan Emmet
Feeling a bit agog right now. Finished Oates' anthology of 16 stories (first seen in a variety of publications from The New Yorker to Playboy to Salmagundi to Shenandoah) during a driving storm full of thunder and lightning. I've always found Oates "right on" in terms of detail, language and character. This collection is full of women who are widowed or father-orphaned. Most of the stories begin kind of "normally" and then rapidly devolve into violence. Much ado about loss of all sorts - and sex ...more
Martie Nees Record
Short stories that mingles violence and desire while examining the meaning of loss with her usual take on the dark sides of relationships. Typical Oates. Now in her 70’s she is still, for me, as hard to read as ever. I’ve always been unsettled and still exhilarated by her work. She always leaves me exhausted but yet still interested in her intensely (and embarrassing) truthful take on what makes women tick. Most of the stories in this book are on women who have just become widows and in their lo ...more
Ms. Oates is clearly one of the greatest short story writers of our time.
"Sourland" features pieces of wide-ranging style, but they are all united thematically, and quite brilliantly so. They bring the reader in touch with mortality and loneliness, lost faith and regret, in a healthy way.
What most stands out in these stories, having read much by Ms. Oates before, is the subtly she purposefully deploys in a majority of the stories. She has always been a master of establishing mood through langu
All of the stories are pretty much the same. The lack of imaginative ambition weaved through so many pages in this collection eroded my enthusiasm far too quickly. I love Joyce Carol Oates but Sourland does not belong in the same gulf as most of her other accomplishments.
Typical JCO: violent, almost shocking (I watch too much horror for it to really shock me!), abused, often helplessly (but not always) portrayed women as targets of disturbed men, sometimes other women. Many of the stories in this collection featured a woman who recently lost her husband (as JCO herself recently has lost her first husband) and, interesting, each woman feels helpless yet also experiences the loss in different ways, mainly anger and abandonment, one curious case of "I'll get back a ...more
Becca Westerheide
Sourland is quite different from a long of books. It has many stories inside of it and it didn't really spark my interest. There were many mythological stories like the Headless Horseman and I most likely wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Linda K.
I would rate this among the most unlikely stories and most unlikeable characters ever. I loved We Were The Mulvaneys and The Falls. The stories were creepy. This is not enjoyable literature. I have to believe it was an experiment in unreliable third person.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 49 50 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Hidden Meanings? 1 8 Mar 10, 2012 04:41PM  
  • Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon
  • The Last Joy (Green Integer Books)
  • Undrawn
  • Wild Child and Other Stories
  • Fun with Problems
  • The Glassblower's Daughter
  • Girl by the Road at Night
  • The Spot
  • PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2011: The Best Stories of the Year
  • Love Letters from Cell 92
  • Something Red
  • Selected Stories
  • Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
  • Green River Rising
  • The Same River Twice
  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Women and Other Animals: Stories
  • As Seen on TV: Provocations
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...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“In all marriages there is the imbalance: one who loves more than the other. One who licks wounds in secret, the rust-taste of blood.” 3 likes
“Like many shy people, once he began talking he seemed not to know how to stop; he lacked the social sleight of hand to change the subject, and he had no idea how to engage another person. Like a runaway vehicle, he plunged on, heedless.” 0 likes
More quotes…