them - Modern Library Author:Joyce Carol Oates Winner of the National Book Award and in print for more than thirty years, them ranks as one of the most masterly portraits of postwar America ever written by a novelist. Including several new pages and text substantially revised and updated by the author, this Modern Library edition is the most current and accurate version available of Oates' s... more »eminal work.
A novel about class, race, and the horrific, glassy sparkle of urban life, them chronicles the lives of the Wendalls, a family on the steep edge of poverty in the windy, riotous Detroit slums. Loretta, beautiful and dreamy and full of regret by age sixteen, and her two children, Maureen and Jules, make up Oates' vision of the American fam-ily--broken, marginal, and romantically proud. The novel's title, pointedly uncapitalized, refers to those Americans who inhabit the outskirts of society--men and women, mothers and children--whose lives many authors in the 1960s had left unexamined. Alfred Kazin called her subject "the sheer rich chaos of American life." The Nation wrote, "When Miss Oates' potent, life-gripping imagination and her skill at narrative are conjoined, as they are preeminently in them, she is a prodigious writer."
In addition to the text revisions, this--new edition contains an Afterword by the author and a new Introduction by Greg Johnson, Oates' biographer and the author of two monographs on the work of Joyce Carol Oates.« less
I am still figuring out why I enjoyed this book so much...it's not a plot heavy book, but rather an idea-stimulating book. One in which I could discuss with a book club. There are themes related to how much choice (vs. fate) we have in our lives, how much we have control over actions/words, class relations, race relations, gender relations. Ms. Oates tackled a lot in this book, and so although the plot itself was a bit depressing, I am very glad I read it. Plus, I enjoyed reading the authors comments that are at the end of this particular version of the book.