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Teaser Tuesday: We Were the Mulavaneys

This Tuesday, it is time for the teaser again, and this time the book came from the very bottom of my tottering TBR pile (I’m thinking of mixing up older books with the new): We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

We were the Mulvaneys Joyce Carol Oates damyanti

We Were the Mulvaneys

Here are two teaser sentences from We were the Mulvaneys:

During these mad dashes to the wall phone in the kitchen she hadn’t time to fall but with fantastical grace and dexterity wrenched herself upright in midfall and continued running (dogs whimpering, yapping hysterically in her wake, cats scattering wide-eyed and plume-tailed) before the telephone ceased it’s querulous ringing–though frequently she was greeted with nothing more than a derisive dial tone, in any case.”

Blurb: “‘The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mt. Ephraim, New York, are a large and fortunate clan, blessed with good looks, abundant charisma, and boundless promise. But over the twenty-five year span of this ambitious novel, the Mulvaneys will slide, almost imperceptibly at first, from the pinnacle of happiness, transformed by the vagaries of fate into a scattered collection of lost and lonely souls. It is the youngest son, Judd, now an adult, who attempts to piece together the fragments of the Mulvaneys’ former glory, seeking to uncover and understand the secret violation that occasioned the family’s tragic downfall. Each of the Mulvaneys endures some form of exile–physical or spiritual–but in the end they find a way to bridge the chasms that have opened up among them, reuniting in the spirit of love and healing. Profoundly cathartic, Oates’ acclaimed novel unfolds as if, in the darkness of the human spirit, she has come upon a source of light at its core. Rarely has a writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.

I read the book in about three days– some parts were painful-beautiful to read. All the characters are drawn so poignantly– even though not all of them have chapters from their point of view. This is one of my favorite genre of books, the family saga, with a background of crime thrown in, dark, but not too dark– something I can get lost in and never come out.

Oates has written over 40 novels and much else besides in a career spanning 50 years so far– how did she do it? I have barely scratched the surface of her work, and intend to pick up many more.

How about you? Would you read a book like We were the Mulvaneys ?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Love this idea! First I’ve been introduced to “Teaser Tuesday” May have to join in the fun & start doing on my blog! Thanks for sharing ?

  • Yes. I want to read it! I’ll keep the title in mind when I’ll buy the book and it will be soon. 🙂 Thanks.

  • lightinajar says:

    I loved this book. Read it a long, long time ago. Lent it to someone and didn’t get it back. It’s sitting on one of my Chapters wish lists now. Will never forget the scene when the dog stays, waiting for the brother to come back and he doesn’t. And he’s buried at the end of the laneway where he can continue to wait peacefully. One of the most enjoyable reads.

  • Ajaytao2010 says:

    I Nominate you for A Christmas Bouquet – Awards – Ajaytao – 48 Nominations
    please choose any 3 awards out of the 48
    accept it and oblige

    there are no linkbacks for this award

  • mirrorgirl says:

    Love to get inspiration:D

  • Lucy B says:

    I just finished JCO’s The Accursed and had such mixed feelings about it. It was amazing but also very hard to read at times. I LOVED her book Zombie about a serial killer. It’s old – published (I think) in the mid 1990s.

  • Saw the television version in Lifetime. The book sounds very engaging, sad and hopeful. I might get a copy in 2014.

  • Nish says:

    I read this book a long time ago when it first came out. I vaguely remember it, I know I loved it at the time, but apart from a rape, I don’t remember much else. Time for a reread, I guess…or I”ll probably just read your review and refresh my memory 😉

  • camparigirl says:

    I have and I loved it. I agree with Carol – she is a brilliant writer but she can be hit and miss (and I do like you, picking up books from the bottom of the pile, to mix it up)

  • Joyce is such an incredibly intense writer and master stylist. I recently read Zombie and Do With Me What You Will, both were disturbing but rewarding works. I’ve been trying to pick my way through her catalog after being blown away by Them when I read it in 2005. Also the author of my favorite short-story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.

    Phenomenal post.

  • beebeesworld says:

    Nice-sounds intriguing

  • Brenda Bowen says:

    One of my favorite writers, Joyce Carol Oates–and I’m re-reading The Gravedigger’s Daughter. Thank you for posting, and I’ll be reading The Mulavaney’s very soon.

  • I just read a great article over at Copyblogger (they’re all great. Brian’s on speed dial for me) on headlines. Titles. This one grabs you. Who could not try out this book with a title like ‘We Were the Mulavaneys’?

  • Thanks for your post. This is also on my TBR shelf. Someday… 😉

  • Reads like a wonderful suggestion. It is on my to read list. Thanks a lot.

  • I try to read anything Joyce Carol Oates writes. Some of it better than others. We Were The Mulavaneys is one of her best. She is such a prolific writer. I don’t know how she does it. Her book Blonde (based on Marilyn Monroe) is wonderful. Happy reading.

  • I loved that book. Wasn’t there a miniseries or something based on it a while back?

  • raylitt says:

    What a great blog and a great idea. It inspired me to stop wishing I had enough time to read. I’m going to just pick up the book (Isabel Allende, Maya’s Notebook). Thanks!

  • Oh my gosh. I’ve read that book, too. It’s been a long time, but I remember being very interested in the sibling relationships. Yes, a good read. Wow, I love when I’m reminded of books. Have a great day. ~Audrey

  • Dan Antion says:

    I think taking one from the bottom of the pile is a good idea. I might do that for my next read.

  • Wow very descriptive, sounds like a good read. Here is my TT

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