cover image Small Avalanches and Other Stories

Small Avalanches and Other Stories

Joyce Carol Oates. Harper Teen, $16.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-06-001217-5

In a dozen mesmerizing short stories, 10 of which were previously published and three of which have won O. Henry Awards, Joyce Carol Oates's Small Avalanches and Other Stories features females on the brink of adulthood from different eras and locales, who find themselves in painful, even desperate, situations-many of them sexual. In ""Small Avalanches,"" Nancy is pursued by a strange man while walking down a Colorado road; in ""Capricorn,"" Melanie meets a soulmate online who takes a predatory interest in her cousin. Oates often captures the essence of a character in a phrase: ""Everything about her had two sides to it, one for home and one for anywhere that was not home,"" she writes of the beautiful 15-year-old in ""Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"" (which served as inspiration for Sweet Talk, a film starring Treat Williams and Laura Dern).