cover image Black Dahlia & White Rose

Black Dahlia & White Rose

Joyce Carol Oates. Ecco, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-219569-2

The new short story collection from the prolific Oates (after the novel Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You) contains sinister and charged moments tempered by humor and masterful storytelling. The title tale blends fact and fiction and narrates the intertwining lives of two young women in 1940s Hollywood, roommates whose lives diverge as one becomes an internationally acclaimed actress (Marilyn Monroe), and the other (Elizabeth Short) the victim of a gruesome, unsolved murder case. In "Deceit," a woman must face school authorities to explain the fresh bruises on her daughter's body, and in "Run Kiss Daddy," a man is given a second chance at life with a "beautiful new family small and vulnerable as a mouse cupped trembling in the hand," but is confronted by old ghosts when he takes them to a favorite vacation spot and unearths something morbid. Unsettling, potent, and suspenseful, these well-crafted and haunting stories attest to Oates' superior imagination and mastery of the craft, and provide a welcome addition to her oeuvre. (Sept.)