Wonderland (Modern Library Paperbacks)

Wonderland (Modern Library Paperbacks)

Joyce Carol Oates

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 081297655X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet comprises four remarkable novels that explore social class in America and the inner lives of young Americans. Spanning from the Great Depression to the turbulent Vietnam War era, Wonderland is the epic account of Jesse Vogel, a boy who emerged from a family tragedy with his life spared but his world torn apart. Orphaned after watching his father murder his entire family, Jesse embarks on a personal odyssey that takes him from a Dickensian foster home to college and graduate school to the pinnacle of the medical profession. As an adult, Jesse must summon the strength to reach across the “generation gap” and rescue his endangered teenaged daughter, who has fallen into the drug-infused 1960s counterculture.

Hailed by Library Journal as “the greatest of Oates’s novels,” Wonderland is the capstone of a magnificent literary excursion that plunges beneath the glossy surface of American life.

Wonderland is the final novel in Joyce Carol Oates’s Wonderland Quartet. The books that complete this acclaimed series, A Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, and them, are also available from the Modern Library.

J

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a picket sign tilted at an angle—something about “war”—the young man who carried it wore an Indian headband. He was arguing with one of the policemen. “Who says so? Who says so?” someone was yelling. Helene approached the crowd, fascinated. She was struck by the strange silence that fell between isolated shouts. She had never heard that silence before. Mannie was saying something to her but she paid no attention—she was staring at the girls here, their hair long and uncombed and ratty, skinny

there had been a fist-fight: Jesse’s father bellowing at someone, the sudden exchange of blows, Jesse’s father lifting his knee into the pit of another man’s stomach, cries of alarm and rage, some of the women screaming. It was all mixed up in Jesse’s head with the roar of the motorcycles and the speed of their racing. Flattened grass, grass torn out by wheels, caught up in spokes and torn out like hair from a head—Yes, they had raced here. Down that long creek bank, into the creek and up the

that made him look larger than ever, and very chaste and earnest. Jesse was proud of accompanying him; his father (though he could never quite bring himself to think of him as “father”) was extremely popular, known by everyone on the staff, by the nurses, by stray patients in the corridors and those sitting up in bed, waiting for him. “Dr. Pedersen!” they would cry, waving, and he would go to shake hands, knowing everyone by name. Jesse stood proudly at his elbow. “And this is my son Jesse, who

she had to get this dress up on her body.… She lost her balance and almost fell, she stepped forward abruptly and the dress caught her legs short at the knee.… But it hadn’t ripped! Slowly, ah, slowly, she drew the dress up. She avoided looking in the mirror. Over her hips, slowly, slowly, but what a bright green it was—too tight—a droplet of sweat fell from her face onto the front of the dress— “Hilda.” “Yes, Father. Yes.” Suddenly the saleslady was back, on the other side of the curtain.

years. And this is a metaphor for all women’s lives; even a rich woman, as one character says, “lives in a dream, waiting for a man. There is no way out of this, insulting as it is, no woman can escape it.” In contrast, Jules, partly modeled on Julien Sorel of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, understands that even at his weakest he has more power than a woman. “A woman in a car only appears to be in control!” he thinks as a teenager. “Inside, her machinery is as wobbly and nervous as the

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