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THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Days of the living dread

In taut tales, the prolific Oates renders a world terrifying and utterly familiar

Since 1970, Joyce Carol Oates has been writing an average of two books a year. Since 1970, Joyce Carol Oates has been writing an average of two books a year. (Michel Spingler/Associated Press/File)
By Meredith Maran
November 27, 2011
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Given the task of reviewing a new book by Joyce Carol Oates, the usual formula for book reviewing does not apply. No room for that in 2011; by last count, Oates has written fifty-some novels, 30-some story collections, one memoir, and an uncalculated number of novellas, plays, children’s books, articles, essays, and reviews. In 2007, The New York Review of Books addressed the “reviewer’s angst’’ when facing the task. “How does one judge a new book by Oates when one is not familiar with most of the backlist? Where does one start?’’

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THE CORN MAIDEN AND OTHER NIGHTMARES By Joyce Carol Oates

Mysterious, 264 pp., $24