I Am No One You Know contains nineteen startling stories that bear witness to the remarkably varied lives of Americans of our time. In "Fire," a troubled young wife discovers a rare, radiant happiness in an adulterous relationship. In "Curly Red," a girl makes a decision to reveal a family secret, and changes her life irrevocably. In "The Girl with the Blackened Eye," selected for The Best American Mystery Stories 2001, a girl pushed to an even greater extreme of courage and desperation manages to survive her abduction by a serial killer. And in "Three Girls," two adventuresome NYU undergraduates seal their secret love by following, and protecting, Marilyn Monroe in disguise at Strand Used Books on a snowy evening in 1956.
These vividly rendered portraits of women, men, and children testify to Oates's compassion for the mysterious and luminous resources of the human spirit.
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.From Publishers Weekly:
Never one to shy away from grim or sensational themes, Oates writes about murder, rape, arson and terrorism in her latest collection of short fiction. In these 19 stories, she evokes the underbellies of small towns and the bizarre and obsessive desires of their inhabitants. In "Upholstery," a teenager finds herself helplessly attracted to a lecherous older man. A 14-year-old in "The Girl with the Blackened Eye" is brutally abducted but afraid to break her kidnapper's trust by escaping. In Oates's precise psychological renderings, victims are as complex as villains and almost always more interesting. The lure of the criminal is seductive, impossible to resist. Two stories, "In Hiding" and "The Instructor," feature middle-class female intellectuals inexplicably drawn to convicts. The prototypical victim, Marilyn Monroe-also the subject of Oates's acclaimed 2001 novel Blonde-appears in disguise in "Three Girls," when two young coeds encounter her in the Strand bookstore and agree to help her remain anonymous. The collection closes with a story about September 11 that in anyone but Oates's hands would fall flat. But "The Mutants," in which a young woman trapped in her downtown apartment building refuses to be paralyzed by fear, is beautifully, uncannily affecting. "She was hollow-eyed and gaunt yet wakeful, no longer the dreamy-eyed blond. A mutant being, primed to survive." Indeed, even the strangest events in this sure-footed collection are painfully familiar.
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