June 19, 2021
Joyce Carol Oates' "The (Other) You Stories" (Harper 2021) is a brilliant narrative dialog between the realized "you" (for better or worse) and the "you" that might have been (for better or worse).
Her narrative resolution of these two yous is a main character who once and again chooses to be and become, and then defend, the you that is the most humanely admirable, which includes seeing and showing insight and compassion to everybody, including yourself, along the way.
This is her main character's standard- but given envy and jealousy and the fractured egos of folks grimly reckoning with the you they are and the you they never became- one should not be overly surprised, or wounded, if mutual humaneness does not always prevail.
(As a faither and follower of Jesus I would note that it's never too late to make our peace with the Lord and choose to be the one faithful you our one Lord always saw, always sees, and always loves, and is always calling.)
This collection of fifteen short short stories is perhaps not for the faint of heart, or the blindly doubleminded. But because the stories are so lucid, layered and thematically cogent, and therefore build upon each other, the narrator reveals (or at least lets us glimpse and imagine) one person's splendid life story- a story without one written word wasted.
Joyce Carol Oates sees the past and the present and our fractured individual and shared humanity so clearly that she ascends to the status of a sort of literary prophet. As such, these insightful stories seem to suggest that she is doing her literary part to help integrate folks so no one would get lost in multiple "yous."
What will she see and write next?
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...