Joyce Carol Oates On Her Not So Didionesque Widowhood

In an interview today in The New York Times, Joyce Carol Oates talks about her reluctance to hire an assistant:

I’m too shy to hire anyone. I couldn’t even bear the thought of it. I remember Margaret Drabble saying that it was really hard for her to hire a cleaning woman because it seemed like hiring her own mother. We’re from a background where we did the cleaning ourselves.

She also mentions her wish to write a memoir about widowhood (following the death of her husband last year):

Have you thought about writing a memoir? 
I wanted to write a memoir about being a widow. It was going to be the opposite of Joan Didion. Hers is beautiful and elegiac. Mine would be filled with all sorts of slapstick, demeaning and humiliating things. Like trash cans whose bottoms are falling out.

Do you think widowhood is properly understood? 
I think that Didion took it on a very high plane, and she does have assistants and maybe a maid. But it’s actually a very hardscrabble experience. It’s not placid and tragic so much as it’s physically arduous.

In your stories, you favor dramatic endings. Shall we attempt one here
Yes. I’m game.

I hear you just became engaged. True? 
To say how I feel about my engagement to Charles Gross, who is in the psychology department and the Neuroscience Institute at Princeton, is not really possible in such a small space.

One Response to “Joyce Carol Oates On Her Not So Didionesque Widowhood”
  1. Margaret M Fletcher says:

    Joyce Carol Oates seems an “everywoman”. Joan Didion seems an “unreachable depth”.

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