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I'll Take You There

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,249 ratings  ·  112 reviews
I'll Take You There is told by a woman looking back on her first years of college, at Syracuse in the 1970s. Her story, softened by the gauze of memory and the relief of having survived, nonetheless captures a harrowing ordeal of alienation and despair, heightened by a wrenching interracial love affair and her father's death.

Cursed by insatiable yearning and constant dissa...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Ecco (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,996)
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Dec 22, 2007 Amy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Wow. I really did not like this book. I was about 1/3 of the way through by the time I decided I really didn't care for it, though, and I didn't have anything else to read at lunch, so I decided just to stick with it.

I recently read an interview with Joyce Carol Oates where she said this was the most autobiographical of all her books. If that's the case, apparently I violently dislike Joyce Carol Oates, or at least I would have when she was in college. The unnamed (or multi-named) protagonist le...more
Like a Greek tragedy this book is made up of three acts in which the main character falls apart and picks herself up again.
I must say the parts were a little too clean cut to me. It really felt like three novellas rather than one novel. It was my first Joyce Carol Oates' book and I can already tell I will be a fan even if this one was just a 3 star effort really. I threw one more star in because girl bullying and interracial relationships are one of my favourite literary subjects. All in all it...more
Jim Leckband
Oates tackles some philosophy in this one. She references ontology, existentialism (she explicitly names a philosophy grad student "Matheius" which is similar to the protagonist "Mathieu" of Sartre's "The Age of Reason"), Spinoza, Nietzche, Plato, idealism, Wittgenstein's language theory etc. and that is just what I remember - I'm sure I'm missing some of them.

But what is the point of this and does it make an interesting novel? I think it does. Who else but Oates would foist all this philosophic...more
I never dislike Joyce Carol Oates, but sometimes I have a shoulder shrug reaction to her work. This was one of those books. It was beautifully written, and definitely took me back to college days. Primarily because it is about the slow and painful emergence of a person, through insecurity, the freshness of first love, the hardening that comes from suffering through shattering loss. So I'm calling it a good book, but something about it didn't quite hold together and I didn't love it like I tend t...more
I have tended in the past to like Joyce Carol Oates' short stories best of all her works. I've used a couple of them in the classroom. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is the most popular with students, a personal favorite, and probably the most widely anthologized of her stories. I've never really been into her novels, but the last one I read, Black Girl, White Girl, was really good. I've noticed similarities among many of her female protagonists--meek, sensitive, nervous, lacking se...more
Mary Rose
Oh, JCO. What are we going to do with you? As usual, Oates' writing is impeccable, her voice distinct and descriptions lovely, but I could not have picked a more boring subject matter if I had posed the challenge to a doornail. A sorority girl losing her sanity and health, periodically going on long winded tangents about how very, very, VERY British (ahem, English, ahem) her sorority's house mother is. This entire section of the book is filled with her making bad decision after bad decision and...more
I read most of this book on a plane — not the best choice if you're looking for a calm, light-hearted read. This was my first Joyce Carol Oates novel and it certainly won't be my last. It seems like a lot of people found the narrator ("Anellia" though her real name is a matter of dispute) too self-obsessive and not likable. I had the opposite reaction - surrounded by a society and people she can no longer relate to (the Kappas), Anellia emerges as a fiercly independent and self-expressive woman....more
Beth Anne
i found that this book said so little, but said so much. what i mean is that there was no point to telling the story, except to tell the story. am i being too cryptic?

let me try again.

the novel tell the first person account of the 4 college years in the life of a nameless woman in the early 60's. in between her stories of joining a sorority, falling in love with a black man, and meeting her thought to be dead father, we find a complex woman....obsessive, neurotic, super intelligent and completel...more
Sarah B.
This book, about an immature college student, was one of the most nuanced, complicated, adult books I have ever read. While reading it, I was unsure if I had picked up a novel or a memoir. As it turns out, it is a bit of each.

Knowing that Oates is writing about herself makes the reader's relationship to the novel more complex. Oates does not seem to like her protagonist much, and we are not invited to like or admire her, either. She drags the protagonist kicking and screaming out of her own head...more
I previously read a short story by Oates called Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?. I think she does better in the short story format where, y'know, she's not allowed so many WORDS.(view spoiler)...more
Laura Zurowski
JCO's I'll Take You There is set in the early 1960's at a private college in Upstate New York, but it could be set anywhere, at any time in the contemporary era. Like so many of her other books, this is a story with rich character development focusing on people who are broken, struggling with their place in the world, their "otherness", and their inability to conform to socially expected norms.

"Anellia", as she calls herself, is a fish out of water. She's left a working class family embroiled in...more
Σπύρος Γλύκας
‘Η παρείσακτη’ της Τζόις Κάρολ Όουτς είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα που χωρίζεται σε τρία μέρη. Στο πρώτο παρακολουθούμε την ένταξη της πρωταγωνίστριας σε μια από τις αδελφότητες ενός αμερικάνικου Πανεπιστημίου, στο δεύτερο τον πρώτο της έρωτα και στο τρίτο την απώλεια ενός πολύ κοντινού συγγενικού της προσώπου.
Η Ανέλια είναι το τέταρτο παιδί μιας αγροτικής οικογένειας, το οποίο κατηγορούν για το θάνατο της μητέρας του που πέθανε 18 μήνες μετά την γέννηση της. Με τον πατέρα της να είναι ουσιατικά απών απ...more
Lauren Hartney
good one. vintage oates. 1960's bi-racial relationship--stark, simple, compelling.
This is the story of a young college student Anellia who in the first half of the book joins a sorority thinking that this is where she belongs. She had yearned to be a part of something to have 'sisters' and when a friend suggested they pledge, she did so. Anellia got into the sorority unbeknownst to her, because of her intelligence and because of the promise this held in her helping the other sorority sisters with their homework.

Anellia is poor and cannot afford to dress like the other sororit...more
David Haws
Oates’ protagonist describes Vernor Matheius as “technically young,” and I fear that Oates is imagining “nineteen” as someone approaching seventy. Thirty-something is ancient for a nineteen-year-old college sophomore (if she is odd enough—as the protagonist clearly is—she may desire ancient, but she’s unlikely to be internally confused).

I first read Oates as a young undergraduate at Berkeley (late 60s/early 70s) where she (a 30-something) was presented as at the cutting edge of “young fiction.”...more
Our nameless narrator tells us about three separate events that occurred in her life beginning when she was a nineteen-year-old girl attending college in upstate New York during the early 1960s. As a scholarship student, she is smarter than most (she will eventually graduate as valedictorian), but lacks social skills, emotional maturity and financial security of most students. But these are things she is only vaguely aware of as she obsessively attempts to experience life the way she thinks it s...more
Sheryl Greenfield
There is something inately frustrating about reading a novel in which you never learn the name of the principal character. Turns out it is not the only frustrating aspect of the novel. I've read a number of books by Joyce Carol Oates, and had reasonably high expectations. I found myself not exactly enjoying it though. And then I stopped in here and discovered there was a contingent whose reviews said they had not even got past page 50.

Of course that meant I really *had* to keep reading! I'd alre...more
A very personal and intimate story written in first-person. An interesting book with a insightful view into the personality of a young girl who after having lost her mother early and with a father who was never there, desperately tries to find a way to fit in, to figure out who to be. She variously tries to construct herself as a sorority girl, as the love of an older black male (not unproblematic in the 60s) and as a family girl - never really seeming to figure out who she truly is.
As a philoso...more
Plus de deux mois de lecture à petits pas mais j'ai fini par accrocher à ce qui est finalement une relecture.

C'est un roman difficile à approcher du fait de son atmosphère très sombre. Le personnage principal, Anellia est pluriel, accrocheur, à la fois rebelle et sensible. C'est le portrait d'une adolescente devenant adulte en faisant l'expérience de la vie en communauté, d'un premier amour et finalement du décès de son père. J'ai senti l'évolution du caractère de la jeune femme (ce que je n'ava...more
I'm always looking for new authors so I decided to give Joyce Carol Oates a try.
This book was good, but far too cerebral for me. This did tell a story that was interesting, but the main focus of the book was to uncover the reasons for everything that was happening. It only used the story as a platform for uncovering human thinking and reasoning.
It is the story of a lonely girl from a small New York town who has never felt accepted or loved by her father, brothers, or grandparents. Her mother...more
Suzanne Auckerman
I like Joyce Carol Oates because she writes in many different styles. Glimpses of characters and pieces of plots float around in her mind for months or years and then gel into a novel or short story. Bits of this book were published in 1998, but it was published as a book in 2002.

Here is a book review:
A tightly worked gem of a book, I'll Take You There is a portrayal of a woman's inner reality and the development of identity, the ability to love, and the capacity to forgive. Beginning as a girl...more
Sally Whitehead
Lacking the engaging plot of earlier novels such as "We Were the Mulvaneys" this is a much more claustrophobic and intense read. It really places Oates on the literary map as one of America's most intellectual modern female writers, not least due to the philosophical references and ponderings throughout. The opening section is somewhat reminiscent of other novels which focus on the utterly alienating experience of being an unconventional intelligent, academic young woman in America in the early...more
Don O'goodreader
Set in the 60s, I'll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates, is not another chronicle of drugs, sex and rock & roll, but an intimate exploration of what happened to most of the rest of us. The sixties were a time when roles and rules evaporated - not even evaporated - sublimated. Societal structures went directly from the rigidity of ice blocks to the invisibility of water vapor. While some took the psychedelic route, others tried to understand and even impact the changes. This latter group inc...more
Sep 27, 2007 Aubrey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
This book was a very personal, sometimes uncomfortable, but always funny read.

A first-person narrative, I'll Take You There's narrator is an intelligent, obsessive, needy, and slightly off-balance girl in her college years. With sometimes brutal self-awareness, the narrator seeks to define herself through her surroundings. Though the "self" is something too complicated to understand itself, she tries by turning to other girls her own age, to other intellectuals, and to family - constantly reinve...more
This story of obsessive love set against university sorority life in the early sixties reads more as autobiography than fiction. It's claustrophobic, addictive, and like all of Oates' work, wonderfully well-written. (As a writer sometimes accused of semicolon abuse, I'm awestruck by her unapologetic use of multiple semicolons.)
It was truly a struggle to get through this book. I unsuccessfully tried to read it several years ago, and because I wrote my thesis on Joyce Carol Oates, I felt like I had to give this novel another chance. The scattered, obsessive thoughts and actions of the narrator are reminiscent of the narrator in The Tell Tale Heart, but imagine drawing that out into an entire novel. It's the story of a college girl whose true name is never revealed. The book more or less focuses on three individual stori...more
I really tried to like this book - but I had to chuck it across the room after 50 pages. Other goodreads reviewers remark how the protagonist is really unlikeable. I can't say that I disliked the character, mainly because she really reminded me of how I was my first two years of college. (seemingly dissatisfied with everything, focused on past family conflicts, unable to pursue so-called freedoms in college, socially awkward observer, financially self-conscious). The pseudo-intellectualism was f...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eh. It was a decent read. Once you got going, the main character was pretty captivatingly neurotic and obsessive. You want to know what happens. The last line kind of cheesed me, though. And I wanted more transition between the sections--the book is organized into three sections, each one about a huge emotional turmoil in the narrator's life, and each section ends, roughly, when the turmoil is about to end. OK, but then the next section picked up several months or years later, and we don't see h...more
One of the most profoundly disturbing and clever books I have ever read. Oates does indeed "take you" into a world of egocentricity, tunnel vision and despair, and then slowly draws one out again, albeit slowly. She does not use any authorial tricks that lead one to believe in redemption or some form of divine intervention that bring about personal change.
She simply works on the reality that we have to learn to self reflect, change what we can, and allow ourselves to develop a genuine compassio...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
More about Joyce Carol Oates...
We Were the Mulvaneys The Falls The Gravedigger's Daughter Blonde Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang

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“I was nineteen years five months old when I fell in love for the first time. This seemed to me a profound, advanced age; never can we anticipate being older than we are, or wiser; if we're exhausted, it's impossible to anticipate being strong; as, in the grip of a dream, we rarely understand that we're dreaming, and will escape by the simplest of methods, opening our eyes.” 3 likes
“I had been reading Wittgenstein. There are no philosophical problems, only linguistic misunderstandings. Was this so? If so, why write at such length about it? I could understand [his] attraction to such a philosophy. Spartan, rigorous. Surpassingly skeptical. Well, good: philosophers should be skeptical. (No one else is: the mass of mankind is credulous as a gigantic infant, willing to suck any teat.)” 1 likes
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