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3.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  649 Ratings  ·  114 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)
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New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2010
76th out of 100 books — 656 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,763)
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Mar 31, 2011 Maggie-Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 10, 2011 Thea rated it really liked it
Shelves: could-not-finish
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
Jul 20, 2011 Alex rated it really liked it
If her vision gets any clearer she's gonna burst into flames.
Jun 09, 2011 Shel rated it it was amazing
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
Eddie Whitlock
Oct 16, 2013 Eddie Whitlock rated it really liked it
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
Oct 08, 2013 Margot Note rated it it was amazing
It's JCO. Of course I'm rating it five stars!
Dora Levy Mossanen
Jun 12, 2012 Dora Levy Mossanen rated it really liked it
"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
May 05, 2011 Jessi rated it it was ok
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
Mar 04, 2014 Apoorva rated it really liked it
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
Jan 20, 2015 Mario Rufino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O meu texto sobre o livro para o Diário Digital:
Nov 12, 2010 Mike rated it it was ok
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.
Chris Laskey
Jul 27, 2016 Chris Laskey rated it liked it
I have always enjoyed the short fiction of Oates - stories that have this dread and lurking unease behind them. Some more overt in their horror than others; you can't really predict how the story will turn. If I can venture with this collection, more so than in other collections, the pronounced theme is the sudden turn of the tale - the turn of the screw if you will. In each story, just about, it reads and moves in one direction and suddenly veers off and becomes something else altogether. In so ...more
Jul 02, 2015 Virginia rated it really liked it
This is the first book of Joyce Carol Oates I have ever read, and it was intense. Far more intense than I was expecting, but I pushed through. I read this at a time when I was doing an internship that focused on researching human rights and human trafficking, which is a lot of tragedy to look at with a researcher's detachment. In her collection of stories, Oates uses fiction to allow herself to examine this capacity for darkness and violence that people have within them. It was only after readin ...more
Danielle Mathieson
Oct 15, 2010 Danielle Mathieson rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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."
May 05, 2015 Jesse rated it liked it
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
Jan 24, 2015 Sean rated it it was ok
Meh. Couple stories at the front of the book were good. Most weren't my cup of tea.
Marcus Gasques
Sep 07, 2015 Marcus Gasques rated it it was ok
Escritora premiada, professora universitária de prestígio, cotada para o Nobel de Literatura, Joyce Carol Oates ainda encontra tempo para ser muito produtiva: publicou mais de 40 obras desde 1963, quando seu primeiro livro foi lançado. É também uma boa demonstração de que quantidade não equivale a qualidade.

Sourland foi lançado em 2010, e preserva as principais características de Oates: textos muito bem escritos que dissecam os sentimentos mais profundos dos personagens. Mas os 16 contos do livr
Apr 07, 2015 Katina rated it liked it
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
S.L. Dixon
Jul 15, 2015 S.L. Dixon rated it really liked it
There is a fantastic peculiar horror about many of these stories. That is an important piece to the quality of this collection. Most of these themes are well-trodden, even to excess in some cases, but the strangeness and inner awakenings of the characters mid-terror makes them fascinating and original. And that says nothing about the wonderful prose itself.
Sourland is high quality darkness throughout. I had a some absolute favorites,

Uranus was a fun and uncertain surprise, dipping into the specu
Nancy Doerrer
May 25, 2015 Nancy Doerrer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2011 Sherri rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2011 George Kulz rated it it was ok
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
Jul 26, 2011 Virginia rated it really liked it
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
Shirley Sillars
Jun 17, 2013 Shirley Sillars rated it it was amazing
“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
Apr 28, 2011 Nanette Bulebosh rated it really liked it
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
Oct 07, 2010 Sue Russell rated it really liked it
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—
Kevin Shoop
Jul 19, 2016 Kevin Shoop rated it really liked it
Grade: B+

Very dark and very good. The stories in Sourland are ultimately about grief and loss, but Oates uses disturbing descriptions of violence, sexual assault, surrealism, vulnerability, terror, guilt, masochism, and even fetishism to unearth and uncover these deep feelings of despair and desperation in her characters. It's not an easy read, especially for victims of sexual assault. But even the most harrowing scenes are never gratuitous or overtly cruel (like, for instance, American Psycho)
Jul 26, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Hate to admit it, but my first encounter with Oates' stories. It won't be the last. Most of the men are creepy, to one degree or another, and that's accurate, to be sure. Not sure I need the constant reminder.
Fitting that the last story brought me back to Jim Harrison-land in northern midwest, though Minnesota rather than the U.P.

Another thing: Oates does desperation extraordinarily well.
Susan Emmet
Jun 01, 2011 Susan Emmet rated it really liked it
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
Mar 01, 2013 Martie Nees Record rated it really liked it
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
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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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“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.” 4 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
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