The Accursed

The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates This novel is a Gothic piece that weaves through Princeton's elite in the early 1900's, a fun and darkly comedic view from the top. This is a book in a grouping of Gothic novels from Oates, however... this was my first novel of Oates that dealt with the whimsical macabre. Although different from expected, Oates succeeds in the creepy, offensive, and unearthly with such charm. I was very lucky to attend an event with Joyce Carol Oates discussing/signing "The Accursed" at RJ Julia Bookstore in Madison, CT. The event was surprisingly intimate which was a stroke of luck since Oates had practically lost her voice. Even with a hoarse voice, her talk was a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting a "cute" and "funny" Author, more a Princeton snobby Professor. Don't get me wrong, I love JCO as a writer but I didn't know if I would like her personality as well. She exceeded my expectations ten fold and made light of this novel in such a fun way. After her talk about "The Accursed", I ended up enjoying it even more. To share some of the main points Oates discussed about this book...The most important thing I took away from Oates was historical accuracy. The characters, although embellished, follow a fairly accurate history. This surprised me since there was quite a bit of appalling behavior in the actions of some of these famous historical figures. I understand this was the majority of thought back then but it's hard to digest in this era. Prejudice, hate, lynchings, etc... very common, especially among the upper class where they have hired hands still at their beck and call. I don't want to give away much of this book since there are so many stories, all lightly woven together and discussing much of this book would be unfair to you. Pick up this book BUT keep an open mind and remember there is a very important lesson to be learned from the story.