Bookies will lay you odds on anything; they have to keep a finger on the broader zeitgeist at all times, not just sports and politics. If you ask them who is likeliest to be the next American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (once it gets around to the US again, which may take some time), many of them will tell you without hesitation that it’s Joyce Carol Oates. If you’ve always wanted to meet a Nobel-winner-to-be, your chance has come, just as this issue of Almanac Weekly hits the newsstands: The distinguished author will be giving a reading on Thursday afternoon, July 14, at Woodstock’s Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, since the crowd that she is expected to draw would not fit into the Golden Notebook.
At age 78, Oates has finally retired from her 36-year professorial stint at Princeton University, but her legendary productivity has not slacked in the least. She has four “latest” books to discuss on this tour: a short-story collection, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror; two novels, Jack of Spades and The Man without a Shadow; and a memoir about her childhood in Lockport, New York, The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age. She has more than 40 novels under her belt, not counting the ones that she has, in her own words, “cheerfully thrown away.”
Oates is a five-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1978 and has won the National Humanities Medal, as well as the National Book Award for her 1969 novel them. Her short stories have earned her two O. Henry Awards and the PEN/Malamud Award. And although she established a formidable reputation as a “literary writer” early on, her recent forays into “postmodern Gothic” thrillers have won her three Bram Stoker Awards and a World Fantasy Award.
In other words, the Golden Notebook has scored an incredible coup in bringing one of the world’s most intelligent, prolific, skilled and imaginative writers to Woodstock. The event begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, and admission is free. Purchasing a Joyce Carol Oates book from the Golden Notebook (www.goldennotebook.com/event/joyce-carol-oates) guarantees you admission; unreserved seats will be filled first-come, first-served. The Kleinert is located at 36 Tinker Street in Woodstock.
Also coming up for readers this week: Celebrity fashion designer Tracy Tynan will appear at the Golden Notebook at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 16 to discuss her memoir Wear and Tear: The Threads of My Life.