Rediscovering Joyce Carol Oates -- and discovering Gloria Vanderbilt

2022 has been another year of great reading, in print and increasingly online, on my Kobo ereader — on which I can adjust the size of the font and read silently if not invisibly.

One of the best surprises has been Joyce Carol Oates, a writer I have read over the years and recently rediscovered on Twitter –where she is active and posts tweets I often welcome — and on her own Substack.

So I’ve subscribed to Joyce Carol Oates: A Writer’s Journal, which is full of fascinating commentary, articles, and reviews I’m gradually catching up with.

A great prize here has been the discovery of two long and substantial pieces on the work Joyce’s friend Gloria Vanderbilt’s did as an artist — “The Dream Boxes of Gloria Vanderbilt.” I recommend these wholeheartedly. 

Their friendship dates from decades earlier and intensified after the death of Joyce’s first husband, Raymond Smith, in 2010, when Gloria came up from New York City to visit Joyce at her house in Princeton. 

“What Gloria offered me,” Joyce writes of this visit to Princeton, “was both emotional solace and the most incisive wisdom. ‘One breath at a time, Joyce. One breath at a time.'”

What Gloria also said is that the “secret to a long and happy life is simple: always be in love.”

About which, there will be more to follow.


The Girl from Dream City: A Literary Life 

Published by the University of Regina Press.

ISBN 978-0-889777-85-9. 280 pages. $21.95. April 2021