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In Rough Country: Essays and Reviews

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  65 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
“A poignant, nostalgic collection of literary criticism by one of America’s premier authors.”
Kirkus Reviews

In Rough Country is a sterling collection of essays, reviews, and criticism from Joyce Carol Oates that focuses on a wide array of books and writers—from Poe to Nabokov, from Flannery O’Connor to Phillip Roth. One of our foremost novelists, National Book Awardand PEN
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by Ecco (first published June 17th 2010)
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Aug 15, 2010 Athena rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won a copy of this book through First Reads and I enjoyed Oates' insights into authors and their works. Her reviews are both unique and well thought out.
I wasn't at all sure how I would like the book because I tried to read We Were the Mulvaneys years ago and gave up because it was so awful. In essay form, at least, Oates is a good writer and I now have hope that I might like some of her fiction.
She had me with her through most of In Rough Country. That is, up until she praised poet Sharon Old
Aug 31, 2010 Charity rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Review Junkies
Shelves: first-reads
4.5 Stars

I'm a big fan of literary criticism and of book reviews, in general, so it should come as no surprise that I tore through this book with unremitting fervor. Joyce Carol Oates has an amazingly eloquent style (although, she is a little too fond of the word amalgam...get a thesaurus, Joyce!) and I was practically giddy reading each page. Through her essays I learned much about Oates as a writer and person. Through her reviews I learned much more about books and authors that I'd already rea
Jan 08, 2013 James rated it really liked it
Joyce Carol Oates is a protean writer. That is her writing demonstrates a diversity and fecundity of style that is exceptional although not unique in my experience. Rather than devoting herself to one style or theme and honing that over many stories and novels, she has explored myriad ways to tell stories over a career that has produced more than three dozen novels (not counting those she has written under a pseudonym). I remember being mesmerized by the beauty of Wonderland; however not nearly ...more
Finally. Finished. This. One. I've never read anything by Joyce Carol Oates before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but was excited when I found out I won this one on Goodreads. I like her writing style on the whole, but as this book is a collection of essays and reviews, the writing was dense. Almost interminably so. I also don't think it helped that I hadn't read many of the works that she was writing about.

Some of her insights were incredibly insightful and beautifully written - I found mys
Nov 20, 2010 Christine rated it it was ok
I read this book a few months back and reviewed it but that review has somehow disappeared. As I no longer have the book but have given it away I will try to recall its merits. I was drawn to the book by its title and its mention of many authors who are favorites of mine.

However, in reading the book I found I had little in common with the author and her reviews of the other writer’s works. It seemed as if we had read totally different books by the same name. Oates likes to draw on the dark side
Tony Snyder
Feb 21, 2016 Tony Snyder rated it it was amazing
Abslutely stunning! This collection was so visceral that I was repelled by some writers mentioned and entranced by others. Oates' writing shimmers throughout; I wanted it to go on forever. She is so prolific that I will be reading her for years!
Jun 14, 2010 Lauren~ rated it liked it
Just won this from first reads my first book by Joyce Carol Oates can't wait to read it!! Being my first book I read by Joyce Carol Oates I was so sad to hear of the sudden death of her husband in 2008 after 48 yrs of marriage. It was through her bereivement she took to her writing.
Essays and Reviews, there where far to many for me to mention and keep this review short but here are a few I liked. Emily Dickinson & friends,a brief part about Martin Johnson Heade got my attention (being a lov
Paul Jellinek
Mar 12, 2011 Paul Jellinek rated it really liked it
Even though, based on her commentary in this book, I don't think I have the same taste in literature as Joyce Carol Oates (I am definitely not a fan of Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, much of Phillip Roth, etc.), I enjoyed reading many of the reviews and essays in this book, especially the last few that have to do with her early literary influences (Lewis Carrol among them) and her early years growing up in Lockport, New York.
Dec 16, 2011 Alison rated it it was amazing
While I love Joyce Carol Oates' fictions, there is nothing like her prose. These pieces are a reader's dream, reminding me why I always wanted to read Jean Stafford, or more of Shirley Jackson than just "The Lottery." Also wonderful were appraisals of writers I've read such as Margaret Atwood. This is an important volume for anyone interested in literature about difficult subject matter.
Aug 05, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
I like classical books, and had read most of the authors she talks about. Her thoughts are almost too deep for me! I get the feeling she learned to discuss things in a manner that would put off most normal people, a little superior tone. I am not sure she's as smart as she would like you to think.
I did enjoy her writing, except I don't concede that she knows whether there is a God or not.
Joan Colby
Nov 05, 2010 Joan Colby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of reviews and essays by the renowned Oates. Outstanding among these are the two assessments of the western writers Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx. Another hit is the overview of Margaret Drabble’s work as well as Alice Munro’s. In all a rewarding read for anyone interested in contemporary writers (though Oates also covers Poe and others).
Jun 24, 2010 Bj rated it did not like it
I recieved this book for free from first reads. I'm not too interested by classic literature and this book simply talks about classic literature and authors. I had a hard time getting through this book and would only recommend reading it if you're interested in knowing more about what this author thinks of an author or piece of literature
Aug 20, 2010 Beth rated it liked it
In case you were curious... it's not particularly interesting to read literary criticism about authors and books you haven't read. Three stars because I won this in GoodReads' giveaway contest, and because I generally like Joyce Carol Oates.
Edwin Arnaudin
Dec 21, 2010 Edwin Arnaudin rated it really liked it
Only read the Cormac McCarthy essay, but it was well written and had some good discussion points. Based on the other topics in the collection (Flannery O'Connor! Philip Roth!) and the quality of the McCarthy entry, it seems like a solid book.
Sep 06, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: insomniacs
Shelves: essays, literary-folk
Pedantic. Also, maybe not the book to read after "Mockingjay." May try again one day.
May 01, 2011 patty rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Discourse on a handful of fave writers...think I'm gonna like it !

Jan 20, 2012 Sandi marked it as paused
Shelves: first-reads
I just won this in First Reads. It sounds sooooo good.
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  • My Unwritten Books
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  • Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935-1938
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  • Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon
  • Selected Prose
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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
More about Joyce Carol Oates...

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