I started reading this collection of Joyce Carol Oates’ short stories Dear Husband on Mother’s Day. Maybe not the best day considering the first story is a letter based on the Andrea Yates case. You remember, Yates killed her five young children by drowning them in the bathtub. The stories are melancholy and grim. One reviewer suggests they are “best read by the emotionally stable, as Oates spirals into the realities of death and the sadness of life.” The stories are uniformly well written, but they are not uplifting and there is little redemption. But there is humor mixed with the pathos, Suicide by Fitness Center, is one that is not as tragic as the other 13 stories. I can even sort of smile when I remember it.
Oates crafts beautiful stories, but you may want to read this over several weeks. This is not beach reading and you will need to time to reflect and perhaps steel yourself for the next one.