The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense

by Joyce Carol Oates

The latest collection from exquisite prose stylist Joyce Carol Oates focuses on the inner lives of vulnerable girls and women—some victimized, others provoked, by deep emotional unrest, to commit violence against others.

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date June 06, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2652-8
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

Joyce Carol Oates is renowned for her rare ability to “illuminate the mind’s most disturbing corners” (Seattle Times). That genius is on full display in her new collection of seven feverishly unsettling works, DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense.

In the title story, a precocious eleven-year-old named Jill is in thrall to an older male relative, the mysterious, attractive black sheep of the family. Without telling her parents, Jill climbs into his sky-blue Chevy to be driven to an uncertain, and unforgettable, fate. In “The Drowned Girl,” a university transfer student becomes increasingly obsessed with the drowning/murder of another female student as her own sense of self begins to deteriorate. In “Great Blue Heron,” a recent widow grieves inside the confines of her lakefront home and fantasizes about transforming into that great flying predator–unerring and pitiless in the hunt. And in the final story, “Welcome to Friendly Skies,” a trusting group of bird-watchers is borne to a remote part of the globe, to a harrowing fate.

At the heart of this meticulously crafted, deeply disquieting collection are girls and women confronting the danger around them, and the danger hidden inside their turbulent selves.


“Seven gothic tales that plumb the depths of women who, whatever their age, always seem to stand on the threshold of the heartbreaking tides of adolescence . . . Oates creates worlds and minds as overwrought and paranoid as anything a female Poe could imagine, then sprinkles her trademark exclamation points licentiously through the interior monologues to heighten the intimacy between ecstasy and madness.” —Kirkus Reviews


“The Crawl Space” from DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense is a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Short Story


From “Dis mem ber”

At the bridge Rowan Billiet takes hold of my wrist to lead me down the steep path to the creek. His forefinger and thumb gripping my wrist hard enough to leave a red mark.

It is just a playful gesture, I am thinking. The way my grandfather runs his callused fingers through my hair and I am not supposed to flinch or whimper or cry for that will hurt Grandpa’s feelings.

Beneath the bridge there is a large dark rectangular shadow in the water that is the shadow of the bridge rippling like something alive and breathing. The shallow water near shore is heaped with rocks but also concrete rubble and rusted iron rods and it is here that Rowan pulls me toward to see something that looks at first like slow-bobbing clothes or rags or something woolly. Unless I shut my eyes (as Rowan would not allow me to do) there is nowhere else to look.

See? That’s something ain’t it, lookit the size of that.

Rowan makes a thin whistling sound.

I don’t understand what I am seeing. My eyes blink and swell with moisture. And the strong smell of it, that comes up in hot wafts like heat from a vent in the floor, that makes me feel faint.

From “Heartbreak”

I had “issues” at school so they sent me to the school psychologist who kept pretending to be sympathetic with me, encouraged me to cry if I needed to cry, pushed a box of Kleenex at me, and tried to get me to admit that I “hated” my parents for breaking up our home; I had to hate my mother for sending my father away, and I had to hate my father for leaving. But none of this was true. The only person I hated was the psychologist.

I did not hate my parents at all. I felt sorry for Mom, and all I wanted was for Dad to come back, we would all forgive him.

Then one day some older kids were pushing me in the cafeteria line, and I pushed back, and a kind of flame ran through me–I hate you. Hate hate hate you.

Seeing the look in my face and feeling how strong I was, so suddenly, they were frightened of me. They backed off fast.

From then onward, I did not cry. Not even when I was alone in my bed. After a while Dad become someone I saw at a distance, his face was small and blurred and no longer had the power to make me cry like a pathetic little baby.