Tuesday, September 10, 2013
A Review of "Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong" by Joyce Carol Oates (2013, The Mysterious Press)
In the first of four stories, in this little thriller anthology, one of the characters references an episode of "The Twilight Zone". The story has hints of the supernatural and the reader may begin to suspect the book will a collection of stories that could have been presented on the classic Rod Sterling series. But soon one sees we're not in the twilight zone, but in the world of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
In that other classic anthology series, the supernatural was occasionally implied but never really came through. The dangers were be found in the all too human hearts and minds.
As the subtitle of the book indicates, all the stories deal with a twisted love, but that love isn't always romantic. Parental love takes a dark turn as does the love of a child for a parent and even love between siblings.
Oates does a wonderful job at times of sowing curiosity and dread about the characters which pulls the reader along to an often gruesome conclusion. Of course, the content would have kept a couple of the stories off television in the black and white days. "The Execution" has a quite detailed and brutal description of murder. And "The Flatbed" is quite graphic (but not licentious) in sexual detail.
But "Evil Eye" and "So Near...Any Time...Always" would have been quite cheerily introduced by Hitch, the cherubic host, with assurances after the last act that the guilty were caught and all came out well (said to please the censor, but the audience knew it really wasn't so.)
Tales of suspense by one of the world's most celebrated writers that can be read quickly with at turns pleasure, heebie-jeebies, and moral unease.