Review

You Must Remember This

by Joyce Carol Oates



YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is the best book that Joyce Carol Oates has
ever written. This story of an American family in the 1950s and the
incestuous love affair that threatens to change their lives forever
is expertly dramatized. It's an uncompromising perspective on both
the country and the state of the American family during this
decade.

Enid Maria forms an obsessive relationship with her uncle Felix, a
30-year-old professional boxer. Their relationship eventually
affects the lives of her Eisenhower-loving parents and the
political aspirations of her brother, Warren.

Although the story is set in an era when most people valued
conservative ideas and conformity, Enid Maria's family repeatedly
breaks convention to pursue sexual and personal fulfillment. The
reality of what happens to these characters is shocking and
remarkable, throwing the reader for a loop. The unbearable
eroticism of the scenes between Felix and Enid are the
intelligentsia's equivalent of epic movie desire. These two
generate a huge amount of heat but it is the overwhelming fear of
nuclear war that causes the foundation of their world to rock from
moment one. The affair isn't the thing that destroys the
complacency of their lives; the world around all of these
characters demands that they begin to seek a greater truth for
themselves, as hard as they try to work around it.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is a powerful book. I think it would make a
great movie. Not a sweat-and-nudity spectacular but perhaps the
definitive look at how true love is the most forbidden, because its
very existence threatens to unravel every life that comes into
contact with it. I dare a reader not to feel changed after this
book.  

     

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 24, 2011

You Must Remember This
by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Publication Date: November 1, 1998
  • Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452280192
  • ISBN-13: 9780452280199