Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque

Written by: Joyce Carol Oates

Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque Book Cover
Novelist, poet, dramatist and author of many of the best American short stories of our time, Joyce Carol Oates shows yet another aspect of her unbounded creativity in these tales of the grotesque. Haunted, a collection of sixteen tales that range from classic ghost stories to portrayals of chilling psychological terror, raises the genre to the level of fine literature - complex, multi-layered, and gripping fiction that is very scary indeed.

In the title story, "Haunted, " the pubescent Melissa and her best friend, the sexually precocious Mary Lou, ignore "no trespassing" signs to explore forbidden houses. But the deserted Minton farm is one place where they should not have gone, and years later Melissa is tormented by her memories of its malevolence...and the murder of Mary Lou. In the novella, "The Model, " a sexual threat seems to underlie the interaction between young Sybil Blake and "Mr. Starr, " who asks her to be his model, but the truth about her own identity, and his, shows that the danger is lurking in a different part of the heart. The "Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly, " a macabre reworking of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw, " resurrects the evil of Miss Jessel and Quint, who are up to their old tricks with the children, Miles and Flora, but with new, perverse, and brilliant revelations.

The tales in this collection plunge the reader into nightmare worlds where violence slips in unexpectedly, where reality turns into a funhouse mirror, and where American culture goes awry in shocking, provocative ways. Joyce Carol Oates is a master storyteller of the dark side. She writes with skillfully controlled prose, tightly woven plots, and deep psychological insight that m her fictional horror worthy to set alongside the stories of Edgar Allan Poe - and far above all the rest.

Haunted --
The doll --
The bingo master --
The white cat --
The model --
Extenuating circumstances --
Don't you trust me --
The guilty party --
The premonition --
Phase change --
Poor Bibi --
Thanksgiving --
Blind --
The radio astronomer --
Accursed inhabitants of the House of Bly --
Martyrdom
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Haunted Tales of the Grotesque Reviews

Edward Creter
This collection of 16 short stories should give JCO fans the daily required allowance of Oates--all the nutrients of real life--without all the added sugar! This is NOT your honey bunches of Oates! Stories cover all sorts of Oates-related topics, and focuses on what is truly considered grotesque--not so much the physical horrors the word grotesque reminds you of, but also what grotesques the human heart. There's quite a lot of anti-Christian sentiment here, so I'd proceed with caution, but Ms. O This collection of 16 short stories should give JCO fans the daily required allowance of Oates--all the nutrients of real life--without all the added sugar! This is NOT your honey bunches of Oates! Stories cover all sorts of Oates-related topics, and focuses on what is truly considered grotesque--not so much the physical horrors the word grotesque reminds you of, but also what grotesques the human heart. There's quite a lot of anti-Christian sentiment here, so I'd proceed with caution, but Ms. Oates may have a few points on what is truly Christian and what merely passes for "God's love" when instead those who preach it often don't practice it. It's a collection that grows on you and may be the negative that leads you to a more positive outlook. Sometimes the most bleak of literature can lead to healing, and I hope you guys at GR can see things as I have. I also recommend NOT eating before you read it!
Jamie
I have come to the conclusion that Oates is a national treasure. What an incredible stylist she is. Considering this is a collection of her shorter, more eerie works I found it to be more than appropriate reading for the Halloween season. There are many stories in here that I'm still mulling over and probably will be for days to come. The stories are listed below and my favorites are highlighted. Of course, in this collection nearly all the stories are highlighted, the peek into the psyches of h I have come to the conclusion that Oates is a national treasure. What an incredible stylist she is. Considering this is a collection of her shorter, more eerie works I found it to be more than appropriate reading for the Halloween season. There are many stories in here that I'm still mulling over and probably will be for days to come. The stories are listed below and my favorites are highlighted. Of course, in this collection nearly all the stories are highlighted, the peek into the psyches of her characters and their motivations and personalities can be terribly unsettling. If I had to pick 3 favorites from this collection they would probably be, Martyrdom, Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly, and Thanksgiving. But, that is subject to change.
This collection includes:

Haunted
The Doll
The Bingo Master
The White Cat
The Model
Extenuating Circumstances
Don't You Trust Me?
The Guilty Party
The Premonition
Phase Change
Poor Bibi
Thanksgiving
Blind
The Radio Astronomer
Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly
Martyrdom
Erin
I was so looking forward to this book, and I was sadly let down. A few of the stories were fascinating and held my attention, but so many of the stories just bothered me and annoyed me.

Oates is a writer who will not lay everything out for the reader, and I can respect that. But when every single story has hidden meanings and secrets and things unsaid, it gets old and bothersome. I am not stupid, I don't need every single thing explained, but for every single story to keep me guessing is just an I was so looking forward to this book, and I was sadly let down. A few of the stories were fascinating and held my attention, but so many of the stories just bothered me and annoyed me.

Oates is a writer who will not lay everything out for the reader, and I can respect that. But when every single story has hidden meanings and secrets and things unsaid, it gets old and bothersome. I am not stupid, I don't need every single thing explained, but for every single story to keep me guessing is just an over done device.

Most good short stories want me leaving more, these just left me annoyed and with questions. It took longer than it should have to finish this book because I just didn't enjoy it much. Perhaps I will do better with one long story by her.

Oh, I was also annoyed by her references to "Orientel" people, and she did it more than once.
Pay the Piper :: Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood :: The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984 :: Archy and Mehitabel :: Baltasar and Blimunda
Michael
The only thing I've ever read before by Oates was the excerpt of "Zombie"--her novel based on the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer--published in the New Yorker, which I didn't care for at all. This collection of stories, however, is wonderful, albeit very disturbing. If Poe had suddenly found himself transported to the 1990s and transformed into a woman, this is likely the kind of book s/he might write. Oates creates compellingly damaged characters and sets nightmarish events in motion around them, more The only thing I've ever read before by Oates was the excerpt of "Zombie"--her novel based on the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer--published in the New Yorker, which I didn't care for at all. This collection of stories, however, is wonderful, albeit very disturbing. If Poe had suddenly found himself transported to the 1990s and transformed into a woman, this is likely the kind of book s/he might write. Oates creates compellingly damaged characters and sets nightmarish events in motion around them, more often than not leaving these events unexplained by the stories' ends. Truly horrible in the best meaning of the word.
Jaksen
A nice selection of gory, creepy, ugly, horrifying tales, some which are left open-ended, which is a trait of Oates' writing. Just don't finish the story! Leave it at the point where you have no idea if she's gonna kill him or not! Yikes!

I found it interesting that 'The Model' is in this collection, which was in another anthology (in which one of my stories was also featured.) Ahah! I read that story many years ago and was puzzled by it, and I am still puzzled by it now.

Maybe being puzzled by an A nice selection of gory, creepy, ugly, horrifying tales, some which are left open-ended, which is a trait of Oates' writing. Just don't finish the story! Leave it at the point where you have no idea if she's gonna kill him or not! Yikes!

I found it interesting that 'The Model' is in this collection, which was in another anthology (in which one of my stories was also featured.) Ahah! I read that story many years ago and was puzzled by it, and I am still puzzled by it now.

Maybe being puzzled by an author is a good thing, as it makes the reader 'think' about the story long after it's read.

Oates, one of my favorite authors. Perhaps my most-favorite.
Leif
The title tells you all you need to know except how many "tales" are included.

There are sixteen.
Want to know what I thought?

I read all of them.

Some good, some bad, some creepy, some gross...one or two were even kind of interesting.

Grotesqueness as "fine literature" as some have claimed? Sure. I guess. I don't know.

I will read more of this Oates lady, but I am no longer interested in her take on horror fiction.

The collection does highlight her impressive range of voice, but I feel her writing wo The title tells you all you need to know except how many "tales" are included.

There are sixteen.
Want to know what I thought?

I read all of them.

Some good, some bad, some creepy, some gross...one or two were even kind of interesting.

Grotesqueness as "fine literature" as some have claimed? Sure. I guess. I don't know.

I will read more of this Oates lady, but I am no longer interested in her take on horror fiction.

The collection does highlight her impressive range of voice, but I feel her writing would better
serve non-genre stories. Being gross for being grossness's sake is kind of gross, gross?

Michelle
I read 12 of the 16 stories in this collection, and my feelings varied widely. A few seemed pointless: 1 star, while others were a solid 4 stars. The grotesqueness in Oates' stories is more of an unnatural and bizarre horror in the minds and behaviors of the characters, rather than a "ghosts and goblins" haunting.

Oates is undoubtedly a talented writer, and I enjoyed the Wonderland and Gothic books. I would like to read more of her novels, but I'm still on the fence regarding her short stories. I read 12 of the 16 stories in this collection, and my feelings varied widely. A few seemed pointless: 1 star, while others were a solid 4 stars. The grotesqueness in Oates' stories is more of an unnatural and bizarre horror in the minds and behaviors of the characters, rather than a "ghosts and goblins" haunting.

Oates is undoubtedly a talented writer, and I enjoyed the Wonderland and Gothic books. I would like to read more of her novels, but I'm still on the fence regarding her short stories. For me, the length of a novel allows her talent to shine.
Valerie Sherman
Wow... My husband and I decided to read this collection of macabre tales together, and after wading through story after story, I have to say that Ms. Oates truly knows how to terrify people.

My favorite stories in the book were those that were ambiguous and subtle, ending up like a Rorschach test for people who interpret the story differently. My favorite such tale was the first, a story about a deadly haunting (or perhaps not a haunting at all?). Some of the more gruesome tales involve rape or c Wow... My husband and I decided to read this collection of macabre tales together, and after wading through story after story, I have to say that Ms. Oates truly knows how to terrify people.

My favorite stories in the book were those that were ambiguous and subtle, ending up like a Rorschach test for people who interpret the story differently. My favorite such tale was the first, a story about a deadly haunting (or perhaps not a haunting at all?). Some of the more gruesome tales involve rape or child abuse, so readers be warned!
Frederic Pierce
This was like reading a modern book of Edgar Allen Poe stories, except maybe creepier. Whether its the romance of a pair of pedophile ghosts, the misadventures of a man determined to murder his wife's cat, a note from a mother explaining why she brutally killed her child, or a blind woman who thinks she's fine but the world has gone dark, Oates continually finds ways to look at stories from unexpected angles. She offers insights into human psychology even as she's freaking us out. This was a gre This was like reading a modern book of Edgar Allen Poe stories, except maybe creepier. Whether its the romance of a pair of pedophile ghosts, the misadventures of a man determined to murder his wife's cat, a note from a mother explaining why she brutally killed her child, or a blind woman who thinks she's fine but the world has gone dark, Oates continually finds ways to look at stories from unexpected angles. She offers insights into human psychology even as she's freaking us out. This was a great Halloween read.
Melissa
An interesting collection of stories. They were not as scary or horrific as I thought they were going to be. The stories did have a haunted component and were masterfully told. It just confirmed for me that I like whole books instead of short stories. Just when you start to really sink into the plot and characters the story is over. I did not enjoy reading this so much as enjoyed that I read it.
Jenn
I am a fan of 'dark' reads, so I enjoyed this well enough. I liked a lot of the early stories better than the late ones, but there were quite a few throughout that made me shiver in some way. Still, not every story within caught my interest. If you want to try her, but aren't a fan of short stories - read her book Zombie (it's not about zombies) - it creeped me out fantastically. (If you liked Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho, you'll likely love Zombie.)
Heather
Eh. I really enjoyed some of the stories, while some I didn't like at all. I found it a tad infuriating that not one story in the book had a finite resolution. I'm all for letting the reading come up with their own ending, imagining what could have happened, but not with all 16 stories. Maybe that was her theme tying the stories together? I don't know, but there were a number of stories where I wanted to KNOW what happened, not just speculate.
Dennis Gerwing
An uneven collection of short stories ... some more "grotesque" than others. Almost all of the stories started out very promising but just then sort of fizzled (I was expecting ... hoping for ... Twilight Zone type endings). I'm ok with, in fact even like, ambiguous endings but many of these stories just had no ending.
Victoria
Some of the stories I like and some I just didn't get. Then, I read the last story, and it was so disgusting, I almost threw up. I think horror stories are better when the horrible (grotesque) things are just hinted at and left to the imagination rather than laid out before you in sickening detail. Until I read the final story, I was going to give this book 3 stars.
Mike Lester
Haunted is a collection that truly lives up to its name. The opening lines of the first story set the tone for the entire book; a feeling of quiet unease, a nostalgic paranoia, a sense of an unseen "something" fill the pages and the readers thoughts. Oates is a master at establishing and sustaining tone in her work. Some genuinely creepy work in here. Five stars. Highly recommended.
Somer Canon
It's not that these stories, in their bones, aren't interesting. They very much are. But the twisty storytelling, the quick sidesteps from the story into flashbacks and memory, the naive silliness of all the characters...I found it hard to really get my teeth in any of them. I hate to not like this book, as I respect the author so much. I guess that means I shall have to try another.
Eric
This collection ranges from interesting rehashes of James' Turn of the Screw and Poe's Black Cat to just plain eerie characters that truly help define "grotesque" in literature. It's great when you can tell how much fun the author is having when reading.
Rosina Lippi
Generally I prefer Oates's short stories to her book-length fiction, and this collection has some real gems in it.

The most unsettling story, really a masterpiece of style and structure, is "Because."
Katie Wennechuk
Oates' short stories at her absolute darkest and most disturbing. Prolly worse than Edgar Allan Poe because they are so current. I terrorized myself out of insomnia when I got up at 3 am with my to read. Horror as hight art. Love it.
Karen
Overall, this was a pretty good read. It started out strong, kinda lost me in the middle, and ended strong. That last story was messed up on so many levels. A really good read, but it left me like D:
Msaphillips
If one reads two or three Oates books in a row, the recurrent use of the word "glittering" starts to distract.

She is a very precise and compelling author, but I felt suffocated by her point of view by the third book I read...
Elijah
i read this book in college and had to sleep with the light on after reading the story about the creepy living dollhouse and the one about the baby who talks to his mother like a scary adult. fucked up!
Ted Myers
Pretty boring until the last story ... then it turned to disgusting! "Haunted" is definitely a misnomer. Given the chance to read it again for the first time, I would respectively decline. Not even close to her usual quality.
Nicci
I got this book because of the title. There are a few really creepy stories. I got sort of freaked out just sitting at my desk in the middle of the day. Some of the others are not so great. It's a fun read if you don't want to think.
KarnagesMistress
This is the very first Joyce Carol Oates book I ever read, and 12 years later I am still trying to keep up with her works since, to me, she is an amazing writer. These stories wonderful nuggets of what is so wonderful about JCO.
Shawna
I really enjoyed all of these stories, but I will say that the first one absolutely gave me the creeps!!!

Definitely recommend this book!
Jess
One of my favorite short-story collections. The first three stories are especially brilliant and, well, haunting.
Brandon Mccord
Engrossing, and quietly disturbing. Amazing writing!
Debbie
Some stories were great, some I didn't quite know what was going on and another one in particular was just disgusting (straight out of American Psycho). Hey that is Joyce Carol Oates!
Cathy
Not sure why I read this, reminded me I generally don't like short stories.
Meer
Slightly uneven group of horror shortstories from one my favorite authors.
Sheila
Can't look away, can't stop reading. I really hate Joyce Carol Oates. And I still keep reading her.
Jayne Lamb
Classy collection by well known authors. Oates, Campell, Ligotti. Nothing that really impressed me.
Kate
I love to be scared and thought this would be a great someting to read when you want a short story. I think I read MAYBE two stories and I couldn't tell you a thing about them.
Anna
Engrossing and disturbing, just as I expect any book by Joyce Carol Oates to be.
Jessica Ainsworth
liked a lot -read during Halloween many years ago
Gwen
Well done, but freaky. These horror stories had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end spontaneously, and me jumping at shadows.
Emma
I started reading this book of short stories, but I got too scared and never finished!
Lily Percy
This collection is amazing and shocking. No one writes like her.
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