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She has written more than forty novels and novellas, among them the 1970 National Book Award winner Them, as well as several volumes of poetry, many plays, and five books of literary criticism.
The essays included in this volume are not always comforting, in many cases casting a cold light on the dark realities of modern life.
All of them, however, serve to raise awareness of the plethora of situations, personalities, and lifestyles that make up the history of American writing.
A few hours after my father's funeral, while he lay in state in the undertaker's chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem.
On the morning of the third of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.
But why didn’t deadly disease flow the other way, from the New World to the Old?
Fear, racism, and the troubling attitude of American pioneers, historical and contemporary. Turns out it’s only about five inches from the heart.
I had declined to believe in that apocalypse which had been central to my father's vision; very well, life seemed to be saying, here is something that will certainly pass for an apocalypse until the real thing comes along.
I had inclined to be contemptuous of my father for the conditions of his life, for the conditions of our lives.
All the essays transcend fashion and speak just as eloquently to us today as they did when they were first published." Entertainment Weekly "The strength of The Best American Essays of the Century lies not only in the literary merits of the works included, but also in the mirrors these gifted writers hold up to our collective soul." Minneapolis Star-Telegram"My belief is that art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another.
Along with Robert Atwan, who has overseen the acclaimed Best American Essays volume since its inception in 1986, Joyce Carol Oates has chosen work by the century's most prominent nonfiction writers, focusing on the voice of the essay as the locus of its unique power, transforming public address into something intimately personal.