Sunday, April 17, 2011

BOOK: First Love by Joyce Carol Oates

First Love by Joyce Carol Oates, 86 pages

Gothic Reading Challenge; 2nds Reading Challenge

I'll confess, I only took this from the library because it's a Gothic love story (which I'm not sure about after reading it - just because you call it gothic and use gothic fonts?) and because it was short. So essentially, it's just a short story, because the 86 pages are small pages, smaller than a paperback. And then it is a pretty disturbing short story. My sampling of Oates writing is beginning to have quite the disturbing angle - the only other book I've read was Zombie.

Eleven year old Josie and her mother Delia move in with a great-aunt and her grandson, Jared Jr. who is on a sabbatical from the Presbyterian seminary. The house is old, the town is old and Josie is left to her own devices by her mother, who is enjoying her new freedom. Most of the story is then about Josie and Jared and their disturbing relationship. It's told from Josie's point of view, but in second person well after the fact. There are lots of religious questions and symbols - many different versions of paintings of Jesus, the actual snake in the grass, to the hypocrisy of religious leaders. The writing is good, and visual, and there are lots of points of discussion, but I'll not be remembering this book.

My biggest question is why is this considered gothic? Wikipedia to the rescue. The most basic definition,  "a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance" seems to answer my own question. This was a questionable romance, as child abuse is clearly horrorific.