Joyce Carol Oates
REVIEW BY: Karin Schimke
Being inducted to the worlds of Oates’ stories is always a visceral experience of losing oneself.
Meredith Neukirchen, president of an Ivy League university, finds her ethics and energy begin to turn against her very body as she descends into a trance of illness, quite likely brought on by her endless work hours and her unfailing fairness and reasonableness.
Her unravelling is captured in terms so uncertain yet so concrete that the reader is compelled by curiosity to know what is and is not real for this protagonist who embodies all that is admirable and good in human beings.
Meredith’s uncertain past wells up out of her unconscious until it floods her life in a series of events that are terrible to live through with her. Mudwoman does not let up the tension – and Meredith’s anxieties and uncertainties are ours.
Oates is a formidable writer.