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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich in beautiful language
Hurrah!
I listened to the book on cd, and I must say, although I enjoyed it and felt the actor did a great job, I missed actually reading the language used by Oates throughout the book.
She is, apparently, a master of the written word (this is my first Oates book).
It was a pleasure to read (okay, hear). I typically do not like heavy description in...
Published on July 11 2004 by J. Kastanias

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish
Some things never cease to amaze me. How books like this ever get published is one of them. Had it not been written by such a famous author, I doubt it would have made it past an agent. The writing is weak and bland, the storyline heavily disguised in a mess of mind-numbing filler that serves no purpose whatsoever.

For example: We're given directions on how to...
Published on March 18 2008 by J.E.L.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, March 18 2008
By 
J.E.L. (British Columbia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
Some things never cease to amaze me. How books like this ever get published is one of them. Had it not been written by such a famous author, I doubt it would have made it past an agent. The writing is weak and bland, the storyline heavily disguised in a mess of mind-numbing filler that serves no purpose whatsoever.

For example: We're given directions on how to get to the family farm from Route 58, first the shortcut then the long route (or maybe the other way around), a blow by blow account of every street, every turn - take another right and a left and a right at the square... This went on for THREE pages.
She spent two pages on clocks, all the clocks that were "busily tick-tick-ticking" through the house, describing each one ad nauseam, from the "Chautauqua Valley steeple pendulum clock of the 1850s" to the "small cream-colored ceramic mantel clock with garlands of tiny painted rosebuds, golden pendulum and delicate hands, a chime like the sweetest of birdcalls."

If this review is putting you to sleep, try reading 400 pages of the stuff. To make matters worse, the story is written in first person, a 30-year-old male, supposedly, who often sounds more like the stereotypical doddering old lady. He relays details, page after relentless page, that he couldn't possibly know, unless he was able to clone himself and be in more than one place at a time. No room for suspension of disbelief here, I'm afraid.

On the cover, the Chicago Tribune calls this book "Oates's finest." If that's really the case, I can't imagine her worst. If I could give this book zero stars, I would.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Noble concept poorly executed., June 21 2004
By 
William Krischke (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
Shortly after I finished reading this book, I heard an interview of the author that improved my opinion of the book. Wait, how's that? Am I reviewing the book or the author? Good question. What I should say is that the interview with the author made me respect what the author was attempting to do in the book. It's a noble venture. And don't tell me that outside information, including other's opinions, doesn't affect your own opinion about a book. That's what book clubs are about, after all, and incidentally, this is one of Oprah's pick. All hail Oprah, patron saintess of new authors. JC Oates isn't a new author, though.
What was I saying. Oh yes. The author's intentions were noble. To hear her talk about the book surely makes one want to read it. It's the story of a father who loves his daughter so much he disowns her, and then lets his love for her destroy his marriage, career, and life. It's a story of a tragedy that affects the victim less than it affects those around her. (am I spelling "affect" right? should it be "effect?") It's a story of how, for one character, botched revenge brings more relief than perfect revenge. Doesn't that sound compelling?
The problem is, it's not all that compelling. I got tired of the characters: all of them, starting with the sunny sweet mother, then the overly analytical Patrick, than the overly aggressive, angry head in the sand father, and finally the oh-so-innocent. Basically in the order the focus shifts, I grow tired. And more than the characters, I grew frustrated with the author's techniques. It drove me crazy that sometimes Judd told the story and sometimes Judd was a character in the story (Judd did this, said that, instead of I did this, did that.) And it drove me doubly crazy that every time the characters neared a turning point, the author pulled away from them. Patrick gets his revenge, and something changes inside him. What? How? I don't know. The author doesn't say. All we know is he quits school and only sends random postcards to his family. And Maryanne, after running away for so long, finally allows herself to be loved. How? I don't know. We cut from "the cat's not the only one that loves you" to married with children. I begin to feel that Oates is afraid of these, the most challenging moments in the stories of her characters, afraid of being trite and pedantic and heavy-handed, so she shies away from them. It's true, those are all dangers, but those are the great challenges of writing a good book. By not living up to those challenges, the heart of this story is left out. What we get, basically, is a sketch of a family that can't solve its problems, until somehow, vaguely, it does, and then there's a picnic happy ending.
This could have been a great book. It almost is a great book. It's a great concept. But the execution falls short.
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3.0 out of 5 stars mediocre, May 6 2010
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
A story of how a bad circumstance starts the downward collapse of one family unit. Each character was affected differently and profoundly. Enjoyed it only because they story was not so fictional that it couldn't have happened in reality. The abridged audio version is a good way to get around the author's tendency to be wordy
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4.0 out of 5 stars we were the mulvaney's, Nov. 16 2005
I read this book a couple of years ago....it's a great story about how a familly deals with tragedy when one of the members goes through a horrible event.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich in beautiful language, July 11 2004
By 
J. Kastanias (West Palm Beach, FL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
Hurrah!
I listened to the book on cd, and I must say, although I enjoyed it and felt the actor did a great job, I missed actually reading the language used by Oates throughout the book.
She is, apparently, a master of the written word (this is my first Oates book).
It was a pleasure to read (okay, hear). I typically do not like heavy description in fiction, but I actually found myself enthralled with the scenery and characterization because it was just so enjoyable to hear the words Oates put together.
If you are the type of person who gets excited over well-written sentences (a fellow former English Major or language-loving dork, like me), this is a great book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We will always remember the Mulvaneys, June 11 2004
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
In the very fist line of Joyce Carol Oates's "We were the Mulvaneys" a statement and a question are made. What is stated is something that will be dealt with throughout the whole novel, but the question cannot be answered right away. However the answer will be a huge 'yes' once you have finished the novel.
The first line of the novel reads "We were the Mulvaneys, remember us?" By beginning with such device, Oates, skilled as she is, immediately immerses he reader in the in that family's universe. The voice of her narrator is so powerful, that from the beginning one may be afraid of saying no. This narrator is the youngest Mulvaney, Judd, who sees his family falling apart after the so-called rape of his sister. However young he is, he has such a sense of persuasion that we almost take for granted what he says.
However, as the plot unfolds, one notices that he is still a child and is trying to cope with the destruction of the institution in which he trusted, which is his family. As lost as he is, he seeks for help from every member, but everyone is so immersed in his/her own problems that the boy finds no comfort.
In her faulkneresk novel, Oates shows the importance of the ties that bound us together with our parents and siblings. Her plots resonates one of the best novels written in English, "The Sound and the Fury", and, although she may have been inspired by Faulkner, she still has her own talent and approach. And these qualities are what make this novel so strong and unique.
There is no doubt that Oates is one of the best writers of her generation. She has a special eye for society --and what backs it up, i.e. family-- that is changing. And with "We were the Mulvaneys" she discusses pertinent subjects. Society is changing because of families --or the other way round? This is not an easy question to answer, and the novel doesn't try to. What Oates does with her powerful writing is to point out that things are changing and we can only accept it --or not.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, inspiring family tale? No. But still a great read, June 6 2004
By 
kmg9g "kmmg" (Charlottesville, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
In reading some of the blurbs about this book in the first few pages and on the back cover, one is led to believe that it is an inspiring story about the power of love and the strong bonds of family. I enjoyed this book very much, but I didn't find anything terribly redemptive or inspiring about it. Aside from about the first 50 and the last 20 pages of this 450 page book, it is a sad tale of the Mulvaney family's downward spiral after something terrible happens to daughter Marianne. What I enjoyed most about the book was the author's incredible talents as a storyteller; as one review put it, it seems as though the pages we read are mirrors of real life that the author's prose so perfectly captures.
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3.0 out of 5 stars cool characters, overheated setting, May 23 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
The four young characters, while a bit too perfect, were engaging; you rooted for them and hoped they'd make it through the tragedy as more mature folk.
But Oates' descriptions of their farm and town and such were overwrought, that at times I wasn't sure if the book was supposed to be parody or not. There was scattered humor in its pages, but it was all-too-rare.
The story of how a perfect family begins to unravel is an old one, and I'm afraid Oates' brought nothing new to the table in "We Were the Mulvaneys." Engaging characters can only go so far if there isn't a real concrete plot to stand on.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings..., May 15 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
This book was very interesting, very well written but....
It is a story about the distingration about a seemingly "perfect family". Marianne, the only daughter, a devout, popular "good girl" gets raped on her prom night and this event shatters the entire family, which consists of Mom, Dad and three brothers. I enjoyed the author's prose and descriptions about farm life but I found several things wrong with this story.
1. In the beginnning of the novel, we're led to believe that this family is so close yet after the daughter's rape, the mother (Corrine) sends Marianne to live hundreds of miles away because the father (Mike Sr) can't deal with the fact that she was raped and that he did nothing to protect her. I don't understand how parents could put their own needs over their daughter's. In one scene, Mike Sr. cries that he doesn't care if he ever sees Marianne again. I thought this was all a bit farfetched.
2. The Marianne character was a little bit annoying. Banished from her family, she doesn't seem to feel any anger or shame but rather excuses the choice of her parents. At times I wanted to shout "wake up and smell the coffee and take off those rose colored glasses".
3. The book was a little too long and at times boring. I mostly skimmed the middle sections of the book and the ending was disappointing. The only character I liked was of Patrick, who seemed to be the most normal.
Overall, an ok read but not re-readable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars it was ok, April 16 2004
This review is from: We Were the Mulvaneys (Paperback)
i wouldn't read it again. or for that matter recommend it to anyone because it was sort of boring. it was really slow.
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We Were the Mulvaneys
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (Paperback - Sept. 8 1997)
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