Joyce Carol Oates

The Dark Side of Suburbia by Cindy Hulsey

I’m fascinated by books in which a dark underbelly lurks. Victorian literature often contrasts the buttoned-up, polite and elegant visible world with the steamy, raw, and vice-ridden universe lying beneath it. Similarly, many contemporary novels expose the ugliness that prowls the perfectly manicured lawns and look-alike homes of suburbia when no one’s looking.

Below are some books in which the shadowy side of suburbia is exposed:

Sublime Novels by Cindy Hulsey

When Donna Tartt published her first novel, The Secret History, in 1992 I was smitten.  For me, she had written the perfect book—one that appealed to me on every level—the setting (college in New England), the characters (intellectuals with a dark side), the plot (taught psychological drama), and exquisite language that made me read slowly to savor every word.

Making Sense of Tragedy by Rebecca Howard

I always find it interesting to know why a person reads.  Is she reading for information, enlightenment or escape?  Generally speaking, I read in order to make sense or to make meaning.  While I am often nothing like the characters about which I read, they teach me or help me understand something in a new way.  Walking around in another character’s head for a while helps me develop greater empathy for my fellow humans.  It may even help me be kinder to myself.  I think this why I so frequently read b