Joyce Carol Oates has a dark imagination. In this collection of stories,Dear Husband, we meet an old alcoholic woman, a housekeeper who destroys her employer and his family, a woman who drowns her children, a mother who wants to ruin her son after having led her brother to suicide… Not every story is that dark. The first one for instance shows a couple whose husband feels disregarded after his wife chooses to protect their baby (but not him) in the face of danger. Any violence is purely in their heads.
Beautifully written as usual. Avoid on a day you’re not feeling so hot.
Q & A is the delightful novel that inspired the movie Slumdog Millionaire so the suspense was off since I’d seen the movie before reading the book (he wins and game show and he gets the girl!) — but I very much enjoyed the written story, which is actually quite different from the one told in the book. The structure is the same: poor, uneducated Mumbai young man unexpectedly wins a quiz show because each question reminds him of an often traumatic event of his life, but the questions and the stories are different here. I wish his adventures as a home servant of an Australian diplomat/spy family had been used in the movie, for instance. But the more interesting difference between the book and the movie is that of the personality of the winner. In the movie he seems to be a pure, driven, ultimately lucky individual, while the character in the book is much more scheming and revenge-driven, which gives him more depth.
Read this whether or not you’ve seen the movie.