“If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework you can still be writing, because you have that space.”
Joyce Carol Oates was born today in rural upstate New York in 1938. As a child she went to school in a one-room schoolhouse and enjoyed the outdoor life of a “country” girl. Her grandmother gave her a typewriter for her 14th birthday and Joyce began to write in earnest. She got a scholarship to Syracuse University where she trained herself as a writer by “writing novel after novel and always throwing them out.” 1 After graduating as valedictorian in 1960 Oates went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned her Masters degree in just one year. In Madison she met Raymond Smith. The two married after a brief courtship and moved to Detroit. It was both a marriage of love and one of like minds. The two would swap books back and forth and have literary discussions over the dinner table. They founded The Ontario Review literary magazine in 1974 and the publishing house The Ontario Review Books in 1980.
A prolific writing, Oates generates two or three books a year. Her first novel, With Shuddering Fall, was pubpished in 1964 when she was 26 years old. Her novel them won the National Book Award six years later. them reflected the racial and class struggles that Oates witnessed daily in Detroit. According to the Academy of Achievement‘s page on Oates she “has written 56 novels, over 30 collections of short stories, eight volumes of poetry, plays, innumerable essays and book reviews, as well as longer nonfiction works on literary subjects…”
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