A Widow's Story

A Memoir

By Joyce Carol Oates
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780062015532, 432pp.)

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

List Price: $27.99*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2011 Indie Next List
“This book details not only a 'siege,' as Oates puts it, but also a pilgrimage - one that tracks the author's journey through the complicated stages of her grief. It is an intimate, unflinching portrait of a woman who has remained somewhat of an enigma, though a prolific and respected one. Raymond Smith, Oates' husband of 48 years and the editor of the Ontario Review, died unexpectedly in 2008. In a literary and yet wrenching account, Oates leaves nothing out as readers stumble along with her and discover what it means to be a 'widow.'”
-- Jenny Lyons, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT


Description

In a work unlike anything she's written before, National Book Award winner Joyce Carol Oates unveils a poignant, intimate memoir about the unexpected death of her husband of forty-six years and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.

"My husband died, my life collapsed."

On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray died from a virulent hospital-acquired infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced—totally unprepared—with the stunning reality of widowhood.

A Widow's Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death-duties," and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgment of the widow's desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."

Enlivened by the piercing vision, acute perception, and mordant humor that are the hallmarks of the work of Joyce Carol Oates, this moving tale of life and death, love and grief, offers a candid, never-before-glimpsed view of the acclaimed author and fiercely private woman.




About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the bestsellers Blonde, a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Falls, winner of the 2005 Prix Femina. She is a professor of humanities at Princeton University.

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