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High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  526 ratings  ·  109 reviews
Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals—a brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subway—in the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated.

In the title story “High Crime Area,” a white, aspiring professor is convinced she is being followe
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 4th 2014 by Head of Zeus (first published April 1st 2014)
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When I read Howards end is on the Landing I noticed Susan Hill breezily dismiss all Canadian authors as being the same, so I thought to myself that this sounded so extraordinary that I had best read some more just to see if this was true so I grabbed this at the library, only on closer inspection to realise that the author was from that other country, the USA, well, right continent anyway.

My sense of these stories was that they were strongly average, an author who had these off cuts and polished
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
A book of short stories is very much like a box of assorted chocolates: you approach with a singular expectation that is inherently impossible to satisfy. You won't be satisifed by every single piece of chocolate, and not every individual story will capture your interest or attention. Quite often, the box is populated by strange off-flavors, just as the pages are clouded by the shadows of what could have been: stories that are too experimental, too short, too "tell," stories that are what other ...more
Fiona MacDonald
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such strange stories, I can't get them out of my head. I think this might be what JCO is known for. Her stories read like snapshots, often without a beginning or an end, they are instead a fragment of a memory, and usually unnerving and unsettling to top it off!
I have 3 more JCO books to read and will be interested to see if her writing style continues throughout!
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing set of eight stories, one novella and seven short stories. The first four stories are good, but it's the last four that are stunning. Stories of class distinction, racial tension and confusion, being a woman in the midst of misogyny, Oates hits so many notes of unease perfectly. She makes me question so much about human nature with her stories, often entering dark and shameful areas of the psyche that most authors don't attempt to reach. This collection is a great example of her genius a ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
"High Crime Area" is the title of one of the eight short stories included in this book, each of which play upon the dark side of humanity, and the harm caused by fears and prejudices, insecurities and resulting weaknesses & frailties. I found these to be true "horror" stories, given the truth of how often and easily the characters mistreat and abuse others, even friends and family, in an effort to promote their own interests. These failings are, of course, exaggerated in their presentation, ...more
Filipe Lemos
Mar 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio, full-cast, fiction
This is a good book about sad, sad people in sad, sad stories.
Don't read if you're depressed, you may become suicidal.
Don't read if you're not depressed, you may become depressed.

It's not that is poorly written - it isn't: I wish I could write like this.
It's not that voice i.e. voices are crap: the characters are real and unique.

And that is the problem for me: this is too real of fiction to interest me, the reality is too real (is there such a thing) and too harsh.

At least it is for me. At least
Paula Cappa
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oates is always good at what she does and these stories are pretty dark. When reading Oates, I feel like I'm reading under a magnifying glass into the characters because she really gets into the underbelly of a person. I especially liked The Home at Craigmillnar. The book is worth it just for that story alone—I couldn't stop reading it.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite collection of stories by JCO but, as always, each story makes a point and it is one that lingers.
High Crime Area is one of the 8 stories in this anthology and illustrates the terrible problem in Detroit with stereotypes and fear (while at the same time illustrating the horrible problem with poverty and education in the inner city). We also see the typical "Oates-ian" flawed female protagonist show up along with the often-seen setting of the world of Academia in this and other st
Laura Ruetz
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I always look forward to reading stories by Joyce Carol Oates. My only complaint with this book was that it was too short; I wanted more stories, more words.

High Crime Area contains eight stories, all of which feature the author's ability to fully adapt her writing style to make it unique for each story. I have never read any other author who can make such transitions in their writing voice so that it flawless and changing from story to story. The style, the vocabulary, the grammar structure and
Victoria Moore
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Joyce Carol Oates "High Crime Area Tales Of Darkness And Dread" is a profound and disturbing book that caused me to ponder whether or not the unseen, negative aspect of life we sometimes encounter are a result of circumstances or bad luck. At times I wasn't sure if her characters were truly as pathetic as they seemed, or simply clueless, until I got to the end of the stories then I was surprised by the outcomes.
Despite the high quality of the writing and literary standards, in all of the stor
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
A mixed bag of stories on the themes of darkness and dread. Unfortunately the longest story 'The Rescuer', which made up almost a third of the book, I found most unsatisfactory as it just 'finished' - there was no conclusion or indication of what happened to the characters - indeed, I turned the page expecting the story to carry on but there was only the next story. Disappointing as I generally think far more of this author's writing, be it novels or short stories. Only 6/10 for this one for me ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A pretty good collection of short stories. I would personally call them all "mysteries." Oates' writing reminds me a little bit of Shirley Jackson, with that jarring stop at the end of the story where you find yourself going, "Where is the ending?" before realizing it was never about that.

The Home at Craigmillnar - A guy works as an orderly at a nursing home. His dad tells him one of the ladies at the home was abusive to him as a child in the orphanage, so the guy murders her. I didn't care for
Hank Hoeft
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite her prodigious output--over 100 novels and collections of short stories and essays--I haven't read a whole lot of Joyce Carol Oates. I've only read four titles, one of them being her nonfiction meditation on the sport of boxing. The other three have been collections of novellas and stories in the Gothic tradition: The Doll Master and Other Tales of Terror, Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong, and High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread. I must admit I enjoy Oates' writing but ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Surprisingly, the Queen of the Short Story fell short with this collection. I've read everything this genius has written, and far better collections of her stories are still in print. Try "Faithless: Tales of Transgression."
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: naff
Stale and - it's weird to criticize a book of spooky stories for being joyless right but whatever - joyless.
Gisele Siegmund
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of eight short stories about the dark side of human nature. I particularly liked The Home at Craigmillnar, Demon, & Lorelei.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Joyce Carol Oates's High Crime Area: Tales of Darkness and Dread is a collection of short stories about the terror of living in Eastern cities, particularly as it is intensified by race. The two stories I liked the most were "The Rescuer," about a graduate student going to Trenton to look after her brother, who has left the seminary and is running with a bad crowd, and "High Crime Area," about the thoughts that run through a young professor's mind as she is being followed by one of her former bl ...more
Pamela Scott
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection contains new stories I’ve never read before. This makes a nice change as the last few collections I’ve read have contained stories reprinted many times in other collections. I liked having some fresh stories by one of my favourite authors.

This is a strong collection of stories and I thoroughly enjoyed them, with the exception of a couple that were weaker.

THE HOME AT CRAIGMILLNAR: A great way to start this collection, dark, unsettling and with a great twist.

HIGH: Unexpected and b
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed/fully understood only half of the stories. I believe the first about the nuns was my favourite. I didn't fully grasp what in the world was going on in "The Rescuer." Why did she keep mentioning how short he was? I thought the big reveal was going to be that it wasn't actually her brother. Why did they kill Tin? It was just aggravating how nothing was fully explained in that story.
I usually love Oates' short stories, but these feel short (pun intended).
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Disappointing collection of Oates stories, and I hate to bring this up but the book had an overly racist tone. Every person of color was either a drug addict or a gangsta. Anyway, the only story I enjoyed was The Last Man of Letters, the story of a pompous, arrogant, aging writer perpetually irked by the onslaught of young women interloping into his overly masculine universe. Otherwise, this one didn't do it for me.
Jesse Engel
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was pretty good. Compelling, I felt like I wanted to continue reading it. Had a sense of slowing down time for me. Provided a good sense of escape, interesting descriptions although some seemed to repeat themselves from story to story. I would recommend this as a book to read and also would be interested in reading other books by Joyce Carol Oates based on the strength of this one. This is the first book I've read by her.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-reads
This is a series of 8 short stories. I had never read anything by this author before. Another reviewer said it perfectly. These stories are joyless.

While I believe she is a good writer, this author is not my "taste". Some of the stores just ended at strange moments. Some of the stories left me hanging for what happened next as the issue was never resolved.
Hari Brandl
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Not up to JCO's usual level. There's no one best story; all are rather melodramatic, with over much of her trying to get modern African-American dialect (ebonics?) onto the page, rather unsuccessfully to my taste. I even think I detected some unpleasant, gratuitous racial stereotyping. They die live up to her subtitle: they were quite dark and dreadful.
She's still my favorite author, though.
Elise Goubet
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow. Absolutely loved this collection of short stories. Oates has such a wonderful ability to illustrate the darkness that lingers in each of us, sometimes more than others. This book won't make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it will make you think. Definitely recommend!
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
She is a genius.
Sasha Soleta
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have to say not as good as I had hoped.
Amy Koto
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Fun tales of darkness. I enjoyed some stories more than other ones, but overall it was entertaining and fast-paced.
Brent Forkner
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
seductive, grating and uncomfortable stories about anxious moments, times, lives of mostly women right here in america
Anne Tanner
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some quite interesting stories, all with a high anxiety crime theme.
Andrea Corley
For a more in depth review, please visit my blog, Chorley Chronicals!!

The first book I ever read/listened to of Joyce Carol Oates was Daddy Love, and I absolutely loved all of the sick and twisted parts of that book. So, when it came time to listen to High Crime Area, I was pretty excited!

The first short story started out in true Joyce Carol Oates fashion! I was just listening along, and BAM...the unthinkable happened! So I thought that this was going to be a great set of short stories! However
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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
“In the subway the trains move so swiftly you can never catch your breath. Outside the grimy window that’s a reflecting surface like a mirror mostly there are the rushing tunnel walls, that slow as the train slows for a station, and the doors open with a pneumatic hiss like the sigh of a great ugly beast, and passengers lurch off, and new passengers lurch on, and I lift my eyes hopeful and yearning Who will be my destiny? Which one of you?” 2 likes
“Leander was swaggering and charismatic as a rap star, Maralena gorgeous as the singer whose name I didn’t know how to pronounce—Beyoncé.” 1 likes
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