Joyce Carol Oates Quotes


Type: Writer

Born: June 16, 1938


Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer. Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over 40 novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, for her novel "Them" (1969), two O. Henry Awards, and the National Humanities Medal. Her novels "Black Water" (1992), "What I Lived For" (1994), "Blonde" (2000), and short story collections "The Wheel of Love" and "Other Stories" (1970) and "Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories" (2014) were each nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Joyce Carol Oates Quotes

The worst thing: to give yourself away in exchange for not enough love.

And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo - that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.

I have forced myself to begin writing when I've been utterly exhausted, when I've felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.

Fiction that adds up, that suggests a "logical consistency," or an explanation of some kind, is surely second-rate fiction; for the truth of life is its mystery.

The ideal art, the noblest of art: working with the complexities of life, refusing to simplify, to "overcome" doubt.

The denial of language is a suicidal one and we pay for it with our own lives.

For obviously the advantage for most writers is that no one sees them. The writer is invisible, which confers power.

For the writer, the serial killer is, abstractly, an analogue of the imagination's caprices and amorality; the sense that, no matter the dictates and even the wishes of the conscious social self, the life or will or purpose of the imagination is incomprehensible, unpredictable.

And remember: you must not overwork your body, or your soul. You must not enslave yourself, as you would not enslave any other person. You must be the custodian of your self.

The distinction between "assistant" and intern" is a simple one: assistants are paid, interns are not.

But of course interns are paid, in experience.

Once upon a time the fairy tales begin. But then they end and often you don't know really what has happened, what was meant to happen, you only know what you've been told, what the words suggest.

In love there are two things - bodies and words.

A daydreamer is prepared for most things.

. . . there is a wish in the heart of mankind to be distracted and confused. Truth is but one attraction, and not always the most powerful.

The challenge is to resist circumstances. Any idiot can be happy in a happy place, but moral courage is required to be happy in a hellhole.

For what are the words with which to summarize a lifetime, so much crowded confused happiness terminated by such stark slow-motion pain?

Living's immediacy, you go full sail, you're in a fever of motion. Until it's safe and past and done and dead and you can say, like waking from a dream, "Yes I was happy then, yes now it's all over I can see I was happy then." Maybe that's the advantage of dying?

Unbidden, Unwelcome, Yet unable to resist, I entered a stranger's life

Death is just the last scene of the last act.

Keep a light, hopeful heart. But ­expect the worst.

A mouth of no distinction but well practiced, before I entered my teens, in irony. For what is irony but the repository of hurt? And what is hurt but the repository of hope?

If food is poetry, is not poetry also food?

It isn't the subjects we write about but the seriousness and subtlety of our expression that determines the worth of or effort.

Just to pose certain questions is, I guess, to show your hope they can be answered.

The strangeness of Time. Not in its passing, which can seem infinite, like a tunnel whose end you can't see, whose beginning you've forgotten, but in the sudden realization that something finite, has passed, and is irretrievable.

Can compromise be an art? Yes-but a minor art.

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.

The folly of war is that it can have no natural end except in the extinction an entire people.

In all marriages there is the imbalance: one who loves more than the other. One who licks wounds in secret, the rust-taste of blood.

Her visits to her former hometown were infrequent and often painful. Pilgrimages fueled by the tepid oxygen of family duty, unease, guilt. The more Esther loved her parents, the more helpless she felt, as they aged, to protect them from harm. A moral coward, she kept her distance.

Truths are the last thing you learn about your family. By the time you learn, you're no longer their child.

The innocence of such children doesn't answer our deepest questions about this vale of tears to which we are condemned, but it helps to dispel them. That is the secret to family life.

I suggest to my students that they write under a pseudonym for a week. That allows young men to write as women, and women as men. It allows them a lot of freedom they don't have ordinarily.

See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there's a reason. There has to be

But he doesn't love her. I invented that. It is a plot if you imagine people in love-the lazy looping criss crosses of love, blows, stares, tears. No. It doesn't happen. No love. People meet, touch, stare into one another's faces, shake their heads clear, move on, forget. It doesn't happen.

If she lets us down, if she’s weird sometimes - just ignore it, and love her. Just love her.

I’d like to be your friend - but only if you promise not to ever, ever count on me.

The danger of motherhood. you relive your early self, through the eyes of your mother.

-So you don't believe we have souls I guess?" and Legs laughed and said, "Yeah probably we do but why's that mean we're gonna last forever? Like a flame is real enough, isn't it, while it's burning?-even if there's a time it goes out?

You never give such relationships a thought, To give a thought, to take a thought is a function of dissociation, distance. You can't exercise memory until you've removed yourself from memory's source.

The best part of being a nanny, Katya thought, was reading children’s books aloud to enraptured children like Tricia, for no one had read such books aloud to her when she’d been a little girl. There hadn’t been such books in the Spivak household on County Line Road, nor would there have been any time for such interludes.

There’s a German term- heimweh, homesickness. It’s a powerful sensation, like a narcotic. A yearning from home, but for something more- a past self, perhaps. A lost self. When I first saw you on the street, Katya, I felt such a sensation… I have no idea why

A fear of the unknown: what was that called?
Worse yet: a fear of the known.

I have no inner life. I have no ‘intimate’ life. I am just what I-what to do. I move from one habitation to another like one of those-is it herit crabs? Taking up residence in others shells.
Others’ shells are fine. You come, and then you go. They’re gone

Derailed. In exile. Deeply ashamed, despised. Yet she had so little pride, she was grateful most days simply to be alive.
There is Minimalist art; there are minimalist lives.

I know that there are many essential biological differences between the sexes, of course. But not so many ‘culturally-mandated’ differences. In First World countries we’ve evolved beyond mere biology -it isn’t the fate of the human female to be pregnant continously until she wears out and dies.

And I like your laugh, Sabbath; it’s inaudible.

Literature, art, like civilization itself, are only accidents.

Keeing busy" is the remedy for all the ills in America. It's also the means by which the creative impulse is destroyed.

The novel is perhaps the highest art form because it so closely resembles life: it is about human relationships. It's technique, page by page, resembles our technique of living day by day-a way of relating.

Warum man schreibt, ist eine Frage die sich der Schriftsteller, völlig versunken in seine Arbeit, nicht stellt. Theorien sind das Gebiet derer, die nicht handeln.

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