Joyce Carol Oates
Ecco, Mar 31 2009, $24.99
These fourteen short stories focus on family relationships that appear initially normal, but turn grim when a crisis occurs. Each tale is well written and insightful; with some shocking. For example “Dear Husband” is a letter from infanticide mom Andrea Yates explaining to her spouse she did God’s work when she drowned their children. "Vigilante" focuses on a drug abuser son trying to kick the habit while helping his mom avenge his father. Though some aspects of the theme has been used often by Ms. Oates, all the entries are "Special" whether it stars an autistic child devastating the lives of her caretaker parents and her ignored younger sister or a juror attracted to a charismatic defendant in “Mistrial”. Women forced to make difficult decisions that fail to go as planned in "Cutty Sark," and "Landfill," or meeting the boyfriend’s family in "The Glazers,", are part of “Dear Joyce Carol Oates” entreating look at the dark side of the American family.