“My husband died, my life collapsed.”On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray was dead from a hospital-acquired virulent infection and Joyce was suddenly faced—totally unprepared—with the stunning reality of widowhood.A Widow’s Story illuminates one woman's struggle to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. As never before, Joyce Carol Oates shares the derangement of denial, the anguish of loss, the disorientation of the survivor amid a nightmare of "death duties," and the solace of friendship. She writes unflinchingly of the experience of grief—the almost unbearable suspense of the hospital vigil, the treacherous "pools" of memory that surround us, the vocabulary of illness, the absurdities of commercialized forms of mourning. Here is a frank acknowledgement of the widow's desperation—only gradually yielding to the recognition that "this is my life now."
Can you say a book is beautifully written when it's written about the death of someone? I have not finished reading A Widow's Story, but just from what I've read so far I know one thing: I am going to read eveything I can get my hands on that Joyce Carol Oates has written. Her prose is lyrical. Her eye for detail in the everyday and her ability to breath life in those little things is one of her gifts. And with all that she has to endure, and I feel her pain so intensely, she still is able to demonstrate her morbid sense of humor.
Look for my review in the near future, but in the meantime make a note not to miss this book if you read memoirs, or enjoy reading women's fiction, because ultimately A Widow's Story is about the journey we must take when losing a spouse. Look for A Widow's Story at your local bookstore this coming Feb. 15th.