(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
By titling this volume of 11 previously uncollected stories with a reference to "Black Dahlia," Oates lets the reader know that these stories are headed in a dark direction. Black Dahlia was the nickname given to Elizabeth Short, a young woman brutally murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. In the collection's first story, Oates imagines Elizabeth as an aspiring actress whose roommate is one Norma Jeane Baker, soon to become Marilyn Monroe. The other stories are widely varied but have the common theme of the dark or strange or, in the case of "Spotted Hyenas: A Romance," elements of the fantastic. The author never shies away from the painful (a young girl asked to identify a body that might be her own mother), the uncomfortable (a drug-addled, probably abusive mother), or the frightening (vulnerable visitors in a maximum-security prison), but she is never cruel or unfeeling, nor without humor. VERDICT Another winner for Oates, featuring well-crafted stories that leave the reader tense and uneasy, but captivated just the same.-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In the crisply unnerving title story in her latest, masterfully honed collection of dark tales, Oates audaciously improvises on the rumor that Marilyn Monroe the subject of her novel Blonde (2000) was friends with Elizabeth Short, who was dubbed the Black Dahlia after her gruesome, unsolved 1947 murder. In I.D. and Deceit, Oates channels the inner frequencies of girls endangered by family violence. In The Good Samaritan, she lures us into a small world of depthless subtleties and sorrows as a lonely young composer becomes embroiled in the troubles of strangers. As commanding and definitive as her psychologically charged portraits are, Oates cannily leaves the denouements of her most intense and haunting tales open to interpretation. In several staggering tales, Oates maps the frozen hell of loveless marriages and unsought solitude as women experience hallucinogenic ruptures in reality while navigating an airport, a prison, and Rome, that fabled city of ghosts. With precision and force, the ever-mesmerizing Oates rips open the scrim of ordinariness to expose the chaos that undermines every human notion of control, reason, and sanctuary. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Virtuoso Oates' twenty-fifth story collection will be nationally promoted on all fronts, from print to radio to online media.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist