Wild Nights!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Wild Nights!
Stories About the Last Days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway
by Joyce Carol Oates
★★

I was really disappointed with this one. Part of it is my fault, because I thought (from the title) that this was a nonfiction book about the listed authors’ final days. Instead it’s a fictional short story collection with Oates’ imagined accounts of their later days.

Each of the five stories deals with one author. Poe’s story never seemed very focused to me. Twain’s story was incredibly creepy and I wasn’t a fan. I’m hoping Oates doesn’t believe he was actually like the way she wrote him, because her version of Twain in disturbing. James’ wasn’t bad, but again, there was no real spark. Hemingway’s story was probably the closest to reality and I think that’s why I liked it best.

The Emily Dickinson’s section isn’t actually about her at all. It’s about a live mannequin, called an EDickinsonRepliLuxe, that’s created to look and act like her. A husband and wife purchase it so they can interact with her in their own home. This story reminded me so much of Ray Bradbury’s style, particularly his short story “Marionettes, Inc.” from The Illustrated Man.

BOTTOM LINE: The whole collection is better in theory than in actuality. Skip it and find a nonfiction account about your favorite authors.

5 comments:

Jeanne said...

I think JCO is a bit off her game since her husband died.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Yeah, I am really not going to spend time hearing how she is imagining these guys and their drinking binges. Now if it were true? I'd be first in line.

Jenners said...

Sounds really weird … in theory and in practice.

bibliophilica said...

What a great premise for a book - its a shame it came up short for you. I rather like JCO and may check it out anyway. :-)

I read Peter Ackroyd's "A Life Cut Short" bio of Poe last year. It's short and fascinating (if you're still looking for some non-fiction about authors' last days). That book deals with his entire life of course but does also cover the 'mystery' of the circumstances of his death.

-Jay

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - That's understandable.

Sandy - Exactly! That's the book I wanted.

Jenners - Yup, not my cup of tea.

Jay - Thank you! I just added that book to my TBR list. I adore Poe.