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A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates

In February 2008, prolific novelist and short story writer, Joyce Carol Oates, drove her husband to the hospital. Raymond Smith, in relativley good health, was initially diagnozed with pneumonia. However, after developing an infection, Smith died a week later.

In this new memoir A Widow’s Story, Oates turn to the page to chronicle her bewildering grief following her husband’s unexpected death.

A Widow’s Story reviews:

Booklist – “Brutal violence and catastrophic loss are often the subjects of Oates’ powerful novels and stories. But as she reveals in this galvanizing memoir, her creative inferno was sequestered from her joyful life with her husband, Raymond Smith. A revered editor and publisher who did not read her fiction, Smith kept their household humming during their 48-year marriage. After his shocking death from a “secondary infection” while hospitalized with pneumonia, Oates found herself in the grip of a relentless waking nightmare. She recounts this horrific “siege” of grief with her signature perception, specificity, and intensity, from epic insomnia and terrifying hallucinations to the torment of “death-duties,” painful recognitions of confidences unshared and secrets harbored, and a chilling evaporation of meaning.”

Publishers Weekly – “At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood.”

New York Times – “At its visceral core, grief is a stress response. So scientists have explained, and other experts have charted the emotional journey. What Oates discovers in “A Widow’s Story,” a cascade-of-consciousness that will mostly mesmerize you and surely move you, is that grief can also unleash an identity crisis: Where and how does imagination fit into a marriage? In fact, Oates did manage to scribble notes on paper, curled in her “nest,” as she calls the side of the bed that she turned into a cluttered refuge amid despair during the half-year after her husband’s death at 77. Working with them, the prodigious author of some 50 novels and perhaps 1,000 stories — as well as poems, essays, plays — has assembled a book more painfully self-revelatory than anything Oates the fiction writer or critic has ever dared to produce.”

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