cover image Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories

Joyce Carol Oates. Ontario Review Press, $24.95 (522pp) ISBN 978-0-86538-077-6

In her 17th collection of short fiction, Oates ( With Shuddering Fall ) retrieves stories from her first six, as well as two stories not previously published in book form. And while the volume includes some of her best-known work (``Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?''), the chance to savor ``The Molesters,'' never reprinted before though eventually included in her novel, Expensive People , and ``How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again'' is momentous. For in stories such as these, the writer shows early signs of the sinister ingenuity and command of psychological nuance later fulfilled in other ways in other books. The new collection of work, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, reveals a consistency of theme. Oates demonstrates, for instance, that she was, as she is, cool-tempered yet seductive in her canny portrayals of innocence on the verge of defilement--and afterwards. The collection also displays the author's imaginative restlessness, and an apparent search for an anti-self in fiction concerned with molested children and suburban victims of sleaze and angst. Longtime fans will be pleased to be reminded of how Oates began, and first-time readers will find a good place to start. (Apr.)