Book Review: The Female of the Species by Joyce Carol Oates


In recent history, women have been held as alternately paragons of virtue or emotional, fragile beings incapable of defending themselves. 

Joyce Carol Oates turns that notion on its ear with this collection of short stories, The Female of the Species. 

Men have often exploited women, preyed upon their vulnerabilities. Certainly, that happens in many of these short stories. In fact, the first story in the collection proved difficult (almost impossible) for me to read. However, read it I did, and I am glad. 

Oates explores femininity, liberation (sexual, emotional, and financial), parenthood, and individuality in her own unique style. I recognized some of the stories from other sources (Such as “Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine”), but it was interesting to revisit them. Certainly, they were thought-provoking and boundary-pushing. Fans of crime fiction should enjoy these nine stories by a modern master.