Joyce Carol Oates Makes A Wonderland Woman

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Rumpus contributor Melissa Chadburn has a new essay at over at Buzzfeed. In it she talks about how Joyce Carol Oates’s The Wonderland Quartet provided her with the counter-narrative she needed to face the world.

For me — a woman, and a lesbian to boot — the books represented a kind of literary oasis. I am not a feeble person; in fact, to the contrary, I come from sturdy stubborn stock. My people are short and round and brown, they know how to survive on little. They can break shit and build shit and smoke all kinds of shit. Yet, despite our thick, staunch skin, even the smallest trace of moral suffering can destroy me. I can make tuberculosis, malnutrition, lice, anemia, scabies, addiction, and any other poor woman’s disease my bitch — but the raw realities of ethical and economic disparities have my throat, my pen, my heart twisted in their grip.

This is such a powerful essay and needs to be at the top of your list of reading today.


Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Women Who Submit, Entropy, Jaded Ibis Press, and Why There Are Words. You can find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide. More from this author →