Review

Stories about anxious women and taciturn men

Beautiful Days by Joyce Carol Oates is a thought-provoking collection of 13 stories that touch on the notion of beauty in oblique ways.
Beautiful Days by Joyce Carol Oates is a thought-provoking collection of 13 stories that touch on the notion of beauty in oblique ways.PHOTO: HARPERCOLLINS

The cover art for Joyce Carol Oates' (left) evocative collection of short stories shows a woman, naked except for a pair of dark shoes, sitting in an armchair in the daytime and bending forward to look out of a window.

Edward Hopper's oil painting Eleven A.M (1926) is a fitting choice for a book of stories where readers observe characters as they observe other people. A man gazes at his naked lover while she sleeps; a bereaved woman becomes unhealthily fixated on the "small close-set eyes" and "hideous protruding tongue" of an obese girl she meets on a cruise.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Stories about anxious women and taciturn men'. Print Edition | Subscribe