Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates returns with a dark, romantic, and captivating tale, set in the Great Lakes region of upstate New York—the territory of her remarkably successful New York Times bestseller The Gravediggers Daughter.
Set in the mythical small city of Sparta, New York, this searing, vividly rendered exploration of the mysterious conjunction of erotic romance and tragic violence in late-twentieth-century America returns to the emotional and geographical terrain of acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oatess previous bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravediggers Daughter.
When a young wife and mother named Zoe Kruller is found brutally murdered, the Sparta police target two primary suspects, her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehls daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the others father is guilty.
Told in halves in the very different voices of Krista and Aaron, Little Bird of Heaven is a classic Oates novel in which the lyricism of intense sexual love is intertwined with the anguish of loss, and tenderness is barely distinguishable from cruelty. By the novels end, the fated lovers, meeting again as adults, are at last ready to exorcise the ghosts of the past and come to terms with their legacy of guilt, misplaced love, and redemptive yearning.
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Not since the heyday of Dickens and Balzac can a literary novelist have been as prolific as Joyce Carol Oates. In a year career she has written more than 50 novels and 30 collections of stories, and she has none the less maintained as high a level of prose as of productivity. Now in her seventies, Oates shows no sign of slackening. She has produced two new novels, Little Bird of Heaven and A Fair Maiden , both of which explore such familiar Oates themes as illicit sexuality, male violence and damaging social divisions, and both of which feature a young female protagonist at the mercy of adult desire. Their fictional worlds are, however, very different: Little Bird of Heaven is an expansive, turbulent work set in small-town America; A Fair Maiden is a spare, controlled work set on the affluent New Jersey coast.
Set in Sparta, a fictional town in upstate New York, the novel explores the unsolved murder of Zoe Kruller, a bluegrass singer with a reputation for sleeping around. After she was strangled in bed, the police repeatedly detained and interrogated her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her married lover, Eddy Diehl. Still, the accusations marked them. The town remains split on which one must have done it. But their son, Aaron, insists that he was with his father during the murder.
J oyce Carol Oates is almost as famous for her productivity — 56 novels in 46 years — as for her books, but publishing two novels in the same month is prolific even by her standards. And while it is one thing for a novelist to have characteristic themes and preoccupations, it is another to plough the same furrow. Oates's stories are easily parodied because they can seem formulaic: gender, class and racial politics dovetail with sexual or urban violence; beautiful young girls are drawn to bad boys or powerful older men and No Good Will Come of It. The same could be said of virtually all Oates's fiction, although its baroque qualities are not always virtues. Both books tell of teenagers drawn together across social divides by an act of sexual violence, a primal scene which haunts their lives and interweaves their fates. Little Bird of Heaven opens in the early s with the death of Zoe Kruller, an aspiring singer and cocktail waitress who has left her family to live in semi-prostitution and spiralling drug addiction; her brutally murdered body is found by her year-old son Aaron.
Often called the “Dark Lady of American Letters,” Joyce Carol Oates is a see again in “Little Bird of Heaven,” Oates's 57th novel since
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Sometimes referred to as the "Dark Lady of American Letters" Joyce Carol Oates is both admired for her prolific output and criticised for an overly prurient fascination with violence. In her 57th novel, she returns to Sparta, a fictional town in upstate New York that has appeared in previous novels. When Zoe Kruller, a bluegrass singer, is found strangled in her bed, both her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her married lover, Eddy Diehl, are named as prime suspects. The novel starts out talking the language of police procedural but soon bloats into something more amorphous. It's a bleak insight into what happens when children are forced to rub up against adult sexuality. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.
It is her 38th published novel. The novel is the third set in the fictional city of Sparta, NY, which was also a main setting for her two previous best-sellers We Were the Mulvaneys and The Gravedigger's Daughter. Zoe Kruller, a wife and mother, is found brutally murdered. The Sparta police target two primary suspects: her estranged husband, Delray Kruller, and her longtime lover, Eddy Diehl. In turn, the Krullers' son, Aaron, and Eddy Diehl's daughter, Krista, become obsessed with each other, each believing the other's father is guilty. By the novel's end, the fated lovers, meeting again as adults, are at last ready to exorcise the ghosts of the past and come to terms with their legacy of guilt, misplaced love, and redemptive yearning.