Although there is a feminist sensibility to much of Oates' work, I would love to see a stronger female role model on occasion. Women undergo a lot of suffering in Oates' short fiction, both physically and emotionally, and frequently at the hands of men. The question is: how much of it can a reader handle?
Despite this quibble, Oates, without a doubt, merits reading. I've mentioned 'Fossil Figures' and 'So Help me God' on this blog before but almost all of Oates' tales, which often lean towards the macabre, simply inspire. Oates is a writer's writer; there is so much writers can glean from Oates: structurally, stylistically, and especially atmospherically.
Joyce Carol Oates advice to writers:
Running! If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be...Ideally, the runner who's a writer is running through the land- and cityscapes of her fiction, like a ghost in a real setting.
Joyce Carol Oates, To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet
Unfortunately, I can't run due to my knee but I can imagine the exhilaration Oates derives from it as conveyed in her essay on writing from The New York Times. Haruki Murakami is another writer who swears by running. Maybe it's a panacea for writer's block or clearing up that narrative clutter whirling about in writers' minds?
Maybe I can't run but I am riding now - and I always feel upbeat throughout the day on those mornings that I pedal away. We're so fortunate here in Perth to have the Swan River bike pathways. I hope that never changes.