Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. “Quilts” is from the anthology What My Mother Gave Me: 31 Women Remember a Favorite Gift, edited by Elizabeth Benedict, to be published by Algonquin Books, Spring 2013. She is also author of the forthcoming story collection Black Dahlia & White Rose (September, 2012, Ecco). A professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since
I've read most of her work. I was supposed to hear her speak at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, but came down with the flu and couldn't go. She lives in Princeton, NJ, so I'm hoping I'll get another chance, eventually. When I came across this piece I'm linking to now I wanted to share for those who aren't familiar with her work.
I've heard it said that authors don't need to be readers in order to write. I don't get that and I never will. If you don't read authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Morrison and Anne Tyler you're not only missing out on great fiction but missing a chance to see how a proven author does it right. I think if more people did read these authors, and others like them, we'd see less horrible writing issues, like said bookisms and dialogue tags with bad adverbs. I remember a very dumb business owner when I owned my art gallery in New Hope. He had this idea he would turn his low end gift shop into a high end gallery with upscale merchandise. His shop turned into a ticky tacky over-priced boutique with some of the gaudiest, ugliest merchandise I've ever seen. And that's because you can't run a high end gallery with upscale furniture unless you've actually shopped in a few to see what they are like. This guy never got past WalMart.
In any event, here's an excerpt from The Quilt, followed by a link where you can read the article in full.
It is not a large quilt but very beautiful, I think: comprised of numerous brightly colored knitted-wool squares of every imaginable color—red, yellow, green, blue, purple, magenta, brown, cream.
The pattern is neither simple nor complex. It isn’t, like some quilts, a labyrinthine design.
Photo from Morguefile.com.