Last Saturday night, I was reading Joyce Carol Oates’s beautiful novel Little Bird of Heaven. JCO is probably my favorite contemporary author, and whenever I’m reading her books, my mind starts racing with ideas for my own fictive projects at a rate that few of my other favorite authors can match. I also read her books about nine times more quickly than any other books. It seems wrong to put them down, once they are begun.
While I was reading, I made this note on my iPad, a note for a novel that I am in the early stages of writing and whose shape I am still trying to figure out. The idea that this note addresses is not addressed explicitly in Little Bird of Heaven, but it evidently inspired me to think about it. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoiling the plot of LBoH. Here is my note as it appears in Evernote:
THEN! Last night, I went on Twitter and saw these two tweets from Oates:
And I proceeded to lose my mind.
As expected, JCO’s thoughts about this concept are infinitely, spine-tinglingly better than my own.”To underestimate is tragic while to overestimate is only farcical.” Yes. YES.
I am pissed that NYMag only considered Philip Roth and (vaguely) Don DeLillo in their Greatest Living Author feature. The answer is obviously Joyce Carol Oates, with Don a close second.