I have to confess. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates is the first, and only, book I’ve read by her. It is a fascinating book that goes back to 1905. Woodrow Wilson is the president of Princeton University and not yet President of the United States. Upton Sinclair just published The Jungle. And the town of Princeton is about to be rocked by a lynching that triggers a series of events that lead the town to believe in a Curse.
From what I know, Joyce Carol Oates is a pretty high-brow, intellectual fiction author. I know she has a tendency toward the morose. In this, she does not fail to deliver in The Accursed. I enjoyed the book in that it was a great fiction take on historical events. I also think the mystery of the Curse was sufficiently complex that it took a while to figure out just what all was going on. There were times I thought the level of detail went a little far. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what the Upton Sinclair storyline in the book contributed other than further historical context. The rest of the storyline, though, was spot on to me. I loved the complex interplay between the townspeople of Princeton that fed the Curse beautifully.
All in all, make sure you have some time as this is a long one to get through, but read it. It is an interesting “ghost tale” of sorts that plays off of an interesting time in history. Be sure you haven’t read something heavy and prosaic before this if you’re like me and need a break from that at times. Otherwise, just enjoy!