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Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense
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Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  100 reviews
An Otto Penzler Book

The need for love—obsessive, self-destructive, unpredictable—takes us to forbidden places, as in the chilling world of Give Me Your Heart, a new collection of stories by the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates.

In the suspenseful “Strip Poker,” a reckless adolescent girl must find a way of turning the tables on a gathering of increasingly threatening young men—
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Hardcover, 260 pages
Published January 7th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2010)
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New to Joyce Carol Oates? You should read...
15th out of 24 books — 11 voters
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Books With "HEART"
66th out of 104 books — 32 voters


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Community Reviews

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Connie
"Give Me Your Heart" is a collection of ten dark short stories about people looking for love and acceptance. They are often downtrodden people who are emotionally on the edge, or teenagers who have found themselves over their heads in dangerous situations. The title story is about an older man who promised a woman student that he would love her forever--and the rejected woman is stalking him and planning her revenge years later. "Strip Poker" involves an adolescent girl getting caught up in a ca ...more
Laurel-Rain
In this short story collection by Joyce Carol Oates, themes of love connect the stories. Obsessive, self-destructive, unpredictable love. We visit forbidden and chilling places with the characters.

Most notable stories include the titled selection "Give Me Your Heart," in which a woman pursues an obsessive love...someone who shunned her years ago. Her relentless quest takes us to dark and disturbing places.

In "Smother," an unstable young artist relives bits and pieces of nightmare memories until
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Downward
Joyce Carol Oates, fiction's high priestess of rape culture narratives, gives us here an uneven collection full of fractured narratives that swerve with lack of determinacy and structure. These stories rarely end, instead they push you to a point and then stop, leaving a certain amount of drama off the page. It seeks to mimic real life, or seems to, with its misremembered details and subjective interpretations, and in its best stories - Strip Poker, Bleeed - Oates acheives a gross uneasiness rip ...more
Shaun
Usually a fan of what others consider to be depressing, dark, or macabre, I have to say that I really only enjoyed a few of these short stories. Maybe enjoyed is even a bit of a stretch honestly. Many of the stories had no real flow or cohesiveness to them at all. By the end of the collection I felt as if I had read a collection of short stories submitted by a rather dark version of a high school creative writing class.

I found often that by the time I began to come to grips with what the some o
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Bonnie Brody
Give Me Your Heart, the newest collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, shimmers with violence, actual or imagined. Reading these stories is like hearing footsteps in your home when you know you're the only one there. They're like seeing something impossible out of the corner of your eye and being sure that you've seen it no matter what your rational self tells you. The stories make your heart race and your eyes open wide in horror. They do not come to us gently. Joyce Carol Oates grabs ...more
Ian Baaske
(One of a number of books I found for dirt cheap in the Borders meltdown. Depressingly, there were a number of copies still available. But it was heartening to see large quantities of books by Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin massively discounted and unsold.)

For several reasons, I enjoyed this book less as I worked my way through it. For one thing, I started it while on vacation by the lake and finished it on a crowded El train. But I also read Andrea Thompson’s “meh” review and, while
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Talani
Wow! I thought I liked depressing stories. They are short stories but I was bored throughout. I kept catching myself counting the pages. It feels like she really REALLY wants you to understand, these perpetrators are just normal people. They aren't Disney'ish bad guys. They are just like you and me. It takes her about 20-30 pages to assure herself that you, the stupid reader gets it. Then finally, the character does something bad and the story is over.

The abrupt ending felt contrived after the
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Thomas Bruso
Joyce Carol Oates is one of those authors who needs to be read in small doses. But read nonetheless.

In this brief collection of short fiction, a dying art resurrected by a few deserving authors, "Give Me Your Heart" is a heart-hammering tour de force, a slick of short stories, bordering on the psychological exploration of the human mind. Reading Oates is, to put it bluntly and simply, obsessive. But dark. Maybe too dark at times. But with Oates, you know you'll get your money's worth. Every penn
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Pamela Scott
Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery & Suspense is a strong collection of stories. It’s Oates’s best collection in recent years. I liked every story. Every story in the collection was strong.

GIVE ME YOUR HEART: A woman writes to an old lover. She was a young student when her much old professor seduced her. The letter is full of anger, bitterness and resentment. She believes her lover owes her for what he put her through. She wants to cut out his heart. I thought this was a powerful story.

SPL
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Thomas Strömquist
The cover text on this one led me to believe that JCO had strayed into some unexplored realm of ghost stories and haunted places or something. But, more true to form, it is a collection of stories of haunted and desperate people. She writes beautifully, as always, but the dark and depressing stories are actually a bit too alike for me to whole-heartedly recommend the book. I felt that I could really use a glimmer of light or hope... I would suggest reading one or a couple of stories at at time.
Sarah
The first two stories failed miserably and the rest never improved enough to make up for that. Most were ok but still felt too much like the output from a creative writing class where angst young adults attempt to write about the dark side of human nature. When Oates hits the right cord she really nails it but that only happened for me on two of the stories. Not very many authors can pull off the macabre well and this is a prime example of an attempt can bad.
Michele
Well, I'll start out by saying that I didn't think any of these stories were either mysterious or suspenseful so I'm not sure why that's in the title. I personally didn't like any of the stories except for "Smother," but I only liked half of it and that was the half written from the mother's POV. I will say that Joyce Carol Oates has a knack for getting the register right but I just didn't care about any of the stories enough to recommend them.
Kornela
I must admit that I’m not a huge short story fan. I feel that it’s almost impossible to create a compelling character and an interesting plot in such a short literary medium. Give me a novel that has time to fully flesh out its characters any day. Plus most short story collections tends to be mixed bags—a couple of good stories thrown in with some really bad or indifferent ones. Give me Your Heart by Joyce Carol Oates was no exception to this-there were some bad stories in here but it was elevat ...more
Joel  Werley
Joyce Carol Oates might simply be the best writer of the dark and wet that we have. She doesn't need any compliments from this little reviewer as to her phenomenal writing ability, and those of us who enjoy a dabble in the realm of blood and guts are lucky that she descends the rickety steps from literature to genre fiction. Out of her formidable oeuvre (over 40 novels?! Dozens of short story collections?!), I've only read two novels, this collection, and some other random short stories that ine ...more
Rikke
These short stories are story about the heart and the unreliable forces that are attributed to that particular organ. Love is what connects these tales and also what tears them apart.
Oates writes about love; in her short stories she showcases the destructive beauty and violence that lies within the heart and she demonstrates how quickly love can turn and change into something entirely different.

I found each and every one of these tales to be absolutely mesmerizing. They are bizarre, macabre even
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Sherri
These short stories are Joyce Carol Oates at her best. She somehow takes normalcy and turns it on it's side for a supreme creep-fest feel. These stories aren't of dream-monsters or vampires or other evil beasts. Instead they are stories of normal life turned wrong. It is the human in the story that is the monster in the most normal of ways.

If you've never read a Joyce Carol Oates book, then this might be a good one to start on.

Disclaimer: I am a huge Joyce Carol Oates fan. I have been known to
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Freesiab
JCO can be hit or miss. This was a miss. There were a couple well crafted stories. There was no mystery or suspense. The theme seemed to be be victim hood. Naturally it wound up quite violent when dealing with this theme. Many stories seemed dialed in to her other stories and recycled parts. I'm used to her unusual writing style but a few stories were so confusing I had to go back to see if it was the same story. I'm giving it a 2 because there were a couple ish stories I really enjoyed and wish ...more
Lizzie Shannon-Little
This book is my discovery of Joyce Carol Oates. And I was not disappointed. I sort out this author because she is - I think - a short story writer first and foremost, and the more short stories I can consume at the moment the better. And secondly, because she edits OUP's "The Oxford Book of American Short Stories" (what a coop for the Press!) and I wanted to know what her writing was like...

I selected this book to read first because the stories were billed as "Tales of Mystery and Suspense". Tha
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Derek John
Joyce Carol Oates is a master of the art of overusing commas. You will not read a single sentence that does not contain a run-on sentence. The second short story is four and a half pages long, yet is only one paragraph! I had to stop after the sixth story because the whole book just became so confusing. It's difficult to tell who is talking or referencing what (especially the first story). Whoever was supposed to proofread did a terrible job. If I can quote a line from the second story entitled, ...more
For Books' Sake
Give Me Your Heart is comprised of ten short stories previously published in magazines and periodicals, collected for the first time in this themed anthology. The stories’ central characters are obsessive and self-destructive, often with warped and unreliable viewpoints on the world around them.

As a collection, it makes for unsettling and uneasy reading. With several of the stories told through a disjointed, disorientated stream of consciousness, the reader is given a voyeuristic and uncomfortab
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Heidi
Pohdin harvinaisen pitkään, minkä verran tähtiä antaisin tälle novellikokoelmalle: 3 vai 4. Koska mukana oli muutama niin erinomainen novelli ja suurin osa muistakin oli kaiken vaivan arvoisin, päädyin neljään. Oatesin novelleissa oli tiivis, ahdistava tunnelma, raskaita aiheita ja yllättävä käänne, juuri niin kuin hyvässä novellissa pitääkin olla. Monessa tarinassa päähenkilö oli ajautunut uhkaavaan tilanteeseen, kun taas toisissa uhkaaja oli kertoja itse. Muutamassa tarinassa hyviksen ja pahik ...more
Jack
Fair warning. Joyce Carol Oates can be a dark, transgressive writer. I'm often taken aback by how surprised readers seem to be when they come across her dark writing. After all, this is the woman who wrote "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" and a variety of other dark, disturbing stories. She is not afraid to touch on any subject. No, these are not stories of mystery and suspense in the genre sense. There isn't a who-dun-it to be found. These are stories of the mystery of human tragedy ...more
Sarah Beaudoin
I'm often surprised by how creepy the writing of Joyce Carol Oates can be. Many of the short stories in Give Me Your Heart exemplify her talent for disturbing prose. A few times I had to set the book down. Give Me Your Heart is a collection of short stories involving gruesome events. Oates doesn't pull any punches as an author anyway and that is especially true in this collection. She doesn't flinch from addressing rape, brutal beatings, child murders, or cruelness. A couple of these stories cou ...more
Nancy Doerrer
Another great collection of short stories by my favorite author, JCO. These are in keeping with past collections---dark, suspenseful, often violent and obsessive and all related to family, relationships and the home, which, frankly makes these stories all the more sinister! There's nothing supernatural here or out of the realm of belief. It's just life and love going horribly wrong. It's the stuff of nightmares! Love it!!
Susan Emmet
Ten extremely dark stories of people who vie for love with violence and suppression.
So dark. So dark.
I remain horrified at the depiction of so many women as victims - of men and kids and themselves.
No doubt JCO is a fine writer, a superb one.
I think that the coming of spring just didn't make my mind open to such darkness.
Intriguing characters abound though, as does fine detailing.
Doug
Joyce Carol Oates has always been a sort of secular Flannery O'Connor. In this collection of stories, she continues in the same way, with tensions easily prompted within threats of death and danger. Still, both Oates and O'Connor are two who can pull that off convincingly, most of the time because both are master psychologists. The stories here vary in strength. The opening story "Give Me Your Heart" seemed too forced and artificial. But "Strip Poker," "Bleed," and "Vena Cava" showed some amazin ...more
Rachel
Superb. JCO is my kind of writer except for her usual inability to edit and her obsession with telling the same stories over and over and over. With this book she proves she can do the total opposite of both those things. The short stories are faultlessly edited. Crisp. No word wasted. Just enough detail and none of the characteristic over-writing of JCO other books. Sometimes you are not quite sure what happened and how; other times she leaves you in no doubt at all. Horrible.
She is in her elem
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Nisa
I read this as a much-needed break among all the mugging and essay writing that defined my second last semester in college. It was grotesque, in that Joyce Carol Oates-typical kind of way, and it has been a while since I last read a collection of short stories. Devoured it in two days, doing little apart from it, I started to get the perverted pleasure of trying to deduce who will kill who and what will happen in each story. I like "Give Me Your Heart", "Nowhere", and "Vena Cava" (for this it's ...more
Nancy Groves
Not exactly cheerful reading, this collection! These tales are sad, eerie, chilling slices of life. I was engrossed. After all, life isn't all sweetness and light. It contains an awful lot of darkness, and Oates captures it well.
Ivy
There were some really moving stories and some that didn't grab me. The most valuable were the ones that hit home with direct Adirondack Park influence.
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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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