Review

Middle Age

by Joyce Carol Oates

Read an Excerpt



A nice sculptor dies unexpectedly while saving a golden-haired
child from a boating accident. As his body is cremated and his
ashes turn cold, the town of Salthill-on-Hudson wonders: Who was
Adam Berendt? His friends find their lives changed and changing
after Adam's death. Was he a hero, a brilliant artist, a strange
and lost soul? Rumors abound as the town women who loved him find
themselves learning an awful lot they didn't know about
love. The men who were his confidantes realize that, actually, he
was their confidante, and are thus completely transformed in the
months ahead.

Adam's death touches every single person he ever knew in ways that
he probably would not even have understood. No one knows that he
had huge monetary holdings in several names; no one knows where he
was born or what his real name was. They had no reason to assume
that Adam at face value wasn't anything more than a pleasant and
elusive bachelor sculptor who had a blind eye and a hearty laugh
and a quick and easy way with the pen-to-a-checkbook for a good
cause. And the swiftness with which he lost this gentle and good
life makes everybody else wonder what is really important in their
lives and vow to change those things that they don't like about
themselves...and others.

Set at the dawn of the 21st century, MIDDLE AGE is a beautiful and
exacting look at the issue of identity. The characters are all
drawn with such depth and care that you wonder how Oates can put
out a book this insightful so close to her last one, BLONDE, a
different kind of insightful novel. Oates continues her
otherworldly prolific march to the top of the mountain of American
literary fiction. And one wonders if she, too, is a psychic ---
just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, with the fast
and unjust loss of lives suffered and family and friends smothered
by media attention in their grief, it is hard to miss the sense in
our culture regarding identity and a renewed sense of carpe diem in
our own lives. MIDDLE AGE is a saga, a winding, twisting,
fascinating and utterly readable look into the lives of the
well-off in a little part of America that might as well speak for
all of us.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

Middle Age
by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • : 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco
  • ISBN-10: 0066209463
  • ISBN-13: 9780066209463