Grant's Reviews > We Were the Mulvaneys

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
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's review
Nov 30, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: 21st-century-american-literary-nove
Read in March, 2003

i didn't like it much. i am a big fan of her stories. it opened well, but once the event happens, which the books turns on, it falls apart and i lost interest in the characters. i think there are novels that should be long stories. its because the theme is great, but the plot, the characters, the story do not need the length of a novel to develop. and instead do not stand under the weight of that much scrutiny. i liked the movie brokeback mountain by proulx [sic], but her short story was a lot better. at times the movie dragged and that was because it was too long. scene after scene of frustration and anger over living a lie was wasted in the movie. the story gave a clear, but concise glimpse. the reader got it. here i think it was the same for oates. where in stories like "where are you going, where have you been" she communicates so much in a matter of pages, i think she communicates so little over the matter of a novel. a horrible thing is done to a family member, the family feels unable to address the wrong at the time, and consequently they disintegrate. and one third into this book that is clear and we read about it for another few hundred pages.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Tara you've articulated well what i felt reading this novel. i also love her short stories, and feel that is actually her strong suit as a writer. i loose interest in her novels early on. the shock of her subject matter gives way under what feels like ramblings...
thanks for your thoughts.

Elaine Completely agree with this review.

Megan Jones Although I still have a little less than 100 pages left, I completely agree, and won't be able to state it better in my review!!

Grant Megan wrote: "Although I still have a little less than 100 pages left, I completely agree, and won't be able to state it better in my review!!"

Thanks. I appreciate that.

Kerri Jones In your opinion what is her best novel? I would like to read more and agree with other reviewers about the total length.

Grant This is the only novel of hers I have read. I have read most of the stories in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" as well as some of the stories in other collections. I would check out her short stories. As far as novels, I have been told by trusted opinions that "them" and "Foxfire" are worth reading.

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