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This story collection is the first work by Joyce Carol Oates that I've read, so here I am with my neophyte's perspective. Each of the stories in Wild Nights is an alternate ending to the life of a famous author: Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway. Each revealed to me that I know almost nothing about the actual lives of those authors, so I don't know how to approach the stories. All of the authors-as-characters come across as being deeply self-involved, and since I'm new to Oates, I can't tell whether that's typical of her style and characters, or if she's expressing judgments about the real-life authors, or if she's showing what is widely thought about them and I don't know about it.

So: I'm frustrated, and I flail. Mostly due to my own inadequacies. I felt distanced by the stories, but maybe I wouldn't have if I'd been more familiar with the lives of the authors represented. She seemed to get the voices of Poe and Hemingway fairly well, anyway! I liked the near-future story, "EDickinsonRepliLuxe" the best, since it was literary science fiction in a modern setting.

Questions for audience participation and bonus points: Have you read anything by Oates? What did you think of it? Do you have recommendations for me?

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