Thursday, June 19, 2014

Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong

Title/Author: Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong by Joyce Carol Oates.

Narrators: Various.

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction.

Publisher: Mysterious Press-Highbridge Audio Classics.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  The fourth wife of a much older man thinks she is happy until the first wife comes to stay...A lonely outsider meets a dazzling kindred spirit, but first love soon turns sour...A drugged-up frat boy decides to murder his parents for their money, but is floored by the power of his mother's love...A fragile woman revisits her childhood abuse in order to satisfy her curious lover.

All these stories are about love.  But not as we like to think of it.

Midnyte Musings:  This collection is an interesting and varied mix with one thing in common.  They are tales of warped and dysfuctional love.

"Evil Eye" - I liked this story the best.  I found it very unsettling.  On the surface it's a story about a young woman who marries an older man and becomes his fourth wife.  She discovers that he is not as wonderful as she first thought.

"So Near Anytime Always" - At first I thought this story was going to have a supernatural ending.  Maybe one about immortality or time travelling from the mysterious behavior of Desmond.  However, it didn't turn out this way.  The reality of the story and his intentions are more grounded in the real world but are also far worse. 

"Execution" - This story is about Bart, a spoiled college-age student who kills his father and attempts to kill his mother for their insurance money.  His mother id'ed him at first, but then retracted the accusion.  I wondered at the abrupt ending, but figured that Bart is now punished because he has to spend his time chaufering his mother and being with her practically all the time.  Irony.

"Flatbed" - Celia, a sexually abused woman who, with the help of her lover (only referred to as "N"), get revenge on her abuser from her childhood. Fans of vigilanteism and violent payback will like this, but to be honest, I felt more sympathy for him than on his avengers.  I don't know if this was Oates's intention, with the powerful and powerless switching roles, but it made me uncomfortable.  So perhaps that was the point.  It also made me feel that Celia was being submissive to "N" as he forced the secret out of her and then convinced her that revenge was justifiable.  So all her life Celia had a secret and now her and "N" have one as well. 

The stories were interesting and imaginative.  I connected mostly with Lisbeth from the second story because I can remember being a young girl and longing for a relationship. But it was the first story that affected me out the most.  The style reminded me of Shirley Jackson with buildip, the voice reminded me of the Monkey's Paw due to the dread and the end is ambiguous and made me wonder and think.  What was real?  What did it mean?  I think it would make for a wonderful discussion.  And probably, all the stories would.  In Execution, what did the mother really know?  In Flatbed, was the lover's justice warranted? Ethical?

Narration: I appreciated that each story was read by a different person and that each narrator fit the story. In Evil Eye the woman sounded age appropriate as the younger sounding voice for So Near Anytime Always.

Starstruck over: The fact that although this wasn't a favorite, I still find myself thinking about the stories.


Jenny said...

This sounds like a sort of darkly fascinating group of stories Pam! I do enjoy the books that maybe at first don't seem like they're going to be all that memorable, but then suddenly I finish them and find myself thinking about them days later. Glad this was that type of read for you!

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