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What I Lived For Audio Cassette [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Joyce Oates
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 18 1995 0453009077 978-0453009072
A respected author offers a powerful and insightful portrait of an unforgettable and deeply troubled man, exploring the complex dynamics that fuel Corky Corcoran's driving ambitions.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Another big novel from the prolific Oates, this tale of a successful middle-aged real estate developer whose hidden past surges up to wreak havoc on his present was one of PW's best books for 1994 and a PEN/Faulkner nominee.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Oates's latest novel is a big, breathless, complex, and sometimes painfully intense tale relating one man's every thought and move during the 1992 Memorial Day weekend. Corky Corcoran is a cocky, Irish Catholic, alcoholic, self-made millionaire as well as a city council member in Union City, New York. The turning point for Corky comes with the suicide of Marilee Plummer, a beautiful, politically ambitious black woman who had recently accused a black city council member of raping her. Even in his befuddled, alcoholic state, Corky wonders if his political friends had orchestrated Marilee's death and calls for a full investigation that antagonizes city government. Despite a somewhat contrived climax, Oates has created a remarkably detailed portrait of a man's life; however, Corky, an essentially stupid man whose actions are usually governed by his sexual or violent impulses, doesn't seem to merit such concentrated scrutiny. An interesting addition to Oates's body of work, this is recommended for public libraries.
--Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH! CORKY March 9 2001
Format:Paperback
This is an excellent novel. Joyce Carol Oates takes everyday people and shows them in their glory and their faults, which makes you feel like you know them. WHAT I LIVED FOR covers a period in the life of Corky Corcoran, local bigwig, city councilman, and man-about-town. The book has a wonderfully vivid prologue which sets the mood for Corky's adult life. Fitted into the story, but not as a main pont, is the questionable death of a former, quasi-girlfriend and the ensuing police investigation. Corky deals with his married lover, his mentally-imbalanced stepdaughter, and his dearest childhood friend, all in an affable manner. The ending is emotional, but the epilogue is excellent, setting everything straight. Ms. Oates is talented, very versatile and a joy to read.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read "What I Lived For" in Polish several years ago when it was freshly translated and published in a deluxe hardcover series in Poland. My impressions faded a bit in their freshness since that time, but I still remember what tickled me while reading this novel. Never having been to America beforehand, I tried to form the image of this country based on literature, motion pictures and third-hand information coming from people of my cultural heritage who have been there already. This novel by Joyce Carol Oates helped me form the initial expectations, adding just another brick in the wall of expectations, to borrow a phrase from Roger Waters. Much like the Floydian Wall, that house of cards fell down and disintegrated almost from the very first day of my visit to America, but after several years spent here, I think that if nothing else, Oates's novel is about the only remaining bastion of my old impressions. I still perceive the fictional world of Oates as representative for America, or to be precise, a slice from the overall cake of a picture. Her fiction, though never being pompous or in-your-face-yankee-style patriotic quasi-fiction of the engaged kind, it serves quite well as a door to America, to the anxieties specific to the upstart middle class, an endemic layer of the American society half of the country aspiring to, the newcomer generation in particular, the other half having just outgrown it and moved forward. There is a multitude of possible answers to a trite question what makes America so special, what makes it a magnet attracting people from all over the world. "What I Lived For" is one of these answers, and a compelling one at that. Read more ›
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3.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD BOOK Nov. 4 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I found the book hard to get into, but yet one I had to finish reading once I did,,,The writing did remind me somewhat of Daniel Steel, and yet Joyce has another touch of her own . ..interesting combination. ..
If you liked this book, or want to read one that goes straight to your heart, read Stolen Moments by Barbara Jeanne Fisher. . .It is a beautiful story of unrequited love. . .for certain the love story of the nineties. I intended to give the book a quick read, but I got so caught up in the story that I couldn't put the book down. From the very beginning, I was fully caught up in the heart-wrenching account of Julie Hunter's battle with lupus and her growing love for Don Lipton. This love, in the face of Julie's impending death, makes for a story that covers the range of human emotions. The touches of humor are great, too, they add some nice contrast and lighten things a bit when emotions are running high. I've never read a book more deserving of being published. It has rare depth. Julie's story will remind your readers that life and love are precious and not to be taken for granted. It has had an impact on me, and for that I'm grateful. Stolen Moments is written with so much sensitivity that it made me want to cry. It is a spellbinder. What terrific writing. Barbara does have an exceptional gift!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, uninhibited, excellent July 21 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Corky" Corcoran is not the best of men--a womanizer, not the most honest of politicians or businessmen, and a somewhat failing father and nephew--but as Oates develops Corky you begin to actually like him. You definitely will never love his character but you breathe with him, live with him, and feel his pain and his ecstacy over a non-stop Memorial Day weekend. Corky is always moving and sweet-talking in his expensive Caddy, in his expensive clothing, with a glass of Red Label whiskey in his hand. To tell of Corky's plight that drives him all over town during this Memorial Day weekend would be to ruin the reader's enjoyment of the book. Be warned though that Oates' prose is raw and uninhibited and speaks through Corky's male perspective. Her prose can be disconcerting at times with graphic expletives galore but get past that and you will find an excellent and engrossing novel that delves into Corky's psyche
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4.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book Nov. 19 2001
Format:Paperback
Oates fans will see familiar territory here: Alcoholism, emotional detachment, failed relationships, the dull thud of time as it drags us through a suburban existence. What's new to this novel is Oates' ability to cause the reader to abandon moral outrage and identify completely with the main character, Corky Corcoran. He's a really shady guy and often crosses over into lewdness that embarrasses the reader. But - why is this? - you start to like him. You give in, not because he deserves your love, but because you want to give it to him. Only Oates could pull it off.
I'm an avid reader of the novelist's work, and this book is by far the best. Months after reading that final line of that exhausting novel, I still miss Corky Corcoran in my life.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Help
Unfortunately I do not have a book club and I'm not enrolled in a literature class to help me understand the end. Is Teague or Tyde the angel of death?
Published on Jan. 10 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Help
Unfortunately I do not have a book club and I'm not enrolled in a literature class to help me understand the end. Is Teague or Tyde the angel of death?
Published on Jan. 10 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Oates makes a bad Tom Wolfe
Oates attempts a spiralling, stream-of-conscience style that reads suspiciously like a craven imitation of Tom Wolfe. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars The three days I spent as a middle-aged man.
I have never read an author as versitile as Ms. Oates. She must have been reincarnated millions of times to understand human nature as she does. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2000 by Anne McLaughlin
4.0 out of 5 stars COMPELLING!
This is a very powerful book. I read the first chapter three times before I continued, because I was amazed at what I was reading. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird combination of great writing and pop sleaze
Joyce Carol Oates is a terrific writer, and some of the passages in this book are incredibly powerful. Read more
Published on Sept. 29 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars What's the fuss about?
I normally enjoy Oate's work, especially her editing and short stories, but this book is weak. It's incredibly predictable, fantastically boring, and was a struggle for me to... Read more
Published on July 15 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has stayed with me.
I'm a big fan of Joyce Carol Oates, but this book was much better than I thought it would be, and has remained in my thoughts though I read it more than a year ago. Read more
Published on April 26 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Corky -- what an annoying character!
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood to read about someone as self-centered and obnoxious as Corky, but after a while I just didn't care what happened to him and stopped reading. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 1999
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