The Vulnerability of Outsiders

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Carmen Maria Machado reflects on her experience reading Lois Duncan’s novels in her youth, and explains why she continues to return to Duncan’s work to this day:

Duncan has sometimes been grouped with writers like Christopher Pike or R. L. Stine, but her novels lack the comic, pulpy luridness of their work. Her prose is unfussy and clean. She centered her books on young women, and her writing considers themes that have come to obsess me as an adult: gendered violence, psychological manipulation, the vulnerability of outsiders. She writes about folie à deux and mass hysteria, doppelgängers, sociopathy, revenge. She portrays psychic powers and past-life regressions with a kind of realism; she recognized that even a supernatural evil must have a human heart.


Jake Slovis earned his MFA in Writing from Rutgers University, where he now teaches English Composition. He is a second-generation Argentine American and has spent significant time living and writing in Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Brooklyn. More from this author →