In Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque
, Joyce Carol Oates astutely captures "the interior haunting of a human being by their ever-shifting sense of self." This fascination with identity, secret selves, and our private inner landscapes shapes many of Oates's works, and she even assumes her own other self when she writes as Rosamond Smith. This pseudonym allows Oates to escape into the world of the thriller, where the psychologically disturbed mind can still find a home.
Smith's seventh novel, Starr Bright Will Be with You Soon, is the story of identical twins, who have lived remarkably different lives. Sharon Donner (a.k.a. Starr Bright) is a Las Vegas stripper--and oh, yes, one of the most deadly female serial killers to have walked our planet. On the other end of the spectrum is her sister, Lily Merrick. As this demure-sounding name might suggest, Lily is an all-around good girl, housewife, and mother, who is completely unaware of her twin's murderous streak. Estranged for many years, Sharon decides it's time to pay her do-gooder of a doppelganger a visit, and makes her way to upstate New York. Of course, this won't be a cozy, Oprah Winfrey kind of reunion. Sharon's ugly past soon catches up with her, and thereby drags her twin into the very dangerous present. --Naomi Gesinger
From Library Journal
Updating the classic good twin/bad twin scenario, Smith (aka Joyce Carol Oates; Double Delight, LJ 3/15/97) adds a 1990s twist. Sharon is a successful fashion model with a difference: she's become a serial killer. After her first two murders, described in graphic detail, we meet her sister, Lily, and Lily's family. Sharon hasn't seen her sister for years, but she needs a place to hide, and her decision to hide out with Lily uncovers deep psychological wounds. Sharon, the attractive and successful sister, has always forced Lily into the background. Now she threatens to do it again as Lily's husband and daughter become infatuated with Aunt Sharon. The resulting psychological portrait is a real page-turner that concludes with an ominous last chapter. Some of the descriptions are quite graphic, but with that in mind, this is a good choice for libraries.-?Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, NY
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