Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Joyce Carol Oates

I had the good fortune to attend a reading and Q&A by the respected American author last week.  She proved to be refreshingly straight-forward in her discussion of her work and the influences that drive her.  I was a little surprised though at the basic level of analysis.  I am no perceptive critic when it comes to weighty literature, but some things appear obvious.  One was  the similarity between the heroine of her latest novel and Oates herself as documented in her recent account of widowhood.  Jerusha McCormack nodded sagely beside me as Oates appeared to spontaneously note this resemblance, but anyone with ears to listen could not have failed to see it far earlier in the discussion.

One incident did distress me a little.  A fan in the audience asked a 'question' that ran on for several minutes. Everyone, myself included, began to sigh as the never-ending 'question' rolled on and on.  The questioner was obviously a little star-struck in the presence of her idol, but she couldn't fail to feel deflated when Oates prefaced her answer (one she had to interrupt to give, it must be said) with the remark that she'd hate to have to have the question repeated.  Humorous though this might be, the effect of the put-down could only have been exacerbated by the round of applause the remark got.  Much as she initially annoyed me, I felt for the fan.

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