The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press
The Mysterious Press

High Crime Area

Tales of Darkness and Dread

by Joyce Carol Oates

A stunning and disturbing collection of stories from the legendary Joyce Carol Oates, High Crime Area shows just how full—and how devoid—of humanity we can be.

  • Imprint The Mysterious Press
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date June 09, 2015
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2374-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human flaws. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals—a brother and sister, a teacher and student, two strangers on a subway—in the fearless prose for which she’s become so celebrated.

In the title story, a white aspiring professor is convinced she is being followed. No need to panic—she has a handgun stowed away in her purse, just in case. But when she turns to confront her black male shadow, the situation isn’t what she expects. In “The Rescuer,” a promising graduate student detours to inner-city Trenton, New Jersey, to save her brother from a downward spiral. But she soon finds out there may be more to his world than to hers. And in “The Last Man of Letters,” the world-renowned author X embarks on a final grand tour of Europe. He has money, fame, but not a whole lot of manners. A little thing like etiquette couldn’t bring a man like X down, could it? In these biting and beautiful pieces, Oates confronts, one by one, the demons within us. Sometimes it’s the human who wins, and sometimes it’s the demon.


“Oates offers unexpected glimmers of redemption amid the grotesquerie, degradation, and exploitation that fill this collection’s eight tales. . . . Oates is at her best depicting characters who seem perplexed by their own needs, desires, and obligations.” —Publishers Weekly

“Oates carries forward the great American dark-tales tradition with spellbinding craft, a cutting female eye, and a keen sense of how the diabolical infiltrates everyday existence. . . . Powerhouse Oates brings both exterior and interior worlds into excruciatingly sharp focus, evoking dread, grim exaltation, and the paralysis of prey. Oates’ potent dark tales are addictive.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Oates’ mastery of imagery and of stream of consciousness enhances the gritty settings and the frailties of her grotesque and pitiable subjects.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Some people read poetry at bedtime. Others prefer seed catalogs. May I suggest Joyce Carol Oates’s new story collection, High Crime Area? These ‘tales of darkness and dread’ won’t put you to sleep, but they’ll give you more interesting nightmares. . . . In a way, ever story is a character study . . . sure to focus a basilisk eye on the weak spot that reveals our own ugly impulses and makes us defenseless against the terrors of the night.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“This writer is extraordinary not because she produces such huge amounts, but because what she produces is so consistently good. And short stories show her invention, economy and control at its best . . . Oates perfectly captures the atmosphere of fear and well-meaning misunderstanding.” —Times (UK)

“[In High Crime Area], there’s little overt violence; it’s all in the mind, as [Oates] slowly tightens the noose. Drenched in clammy atmosphere, Oates’ work explores the heads of both ordinary people and those who are at least a little damaged.” —Adam Woog, Seattle Times

“Scary, brooding and entertaining. . . . The despair is palpable and the tension always high in these stories told in a combination of hyper-realism and emotionally charged suspense. Horrific and creepy, High Crime Area still manages to smartly critique American society and its uneasy feelings on race, sexuality, gender, academia and family dynamics.” —Sarah Rachel Egelman, Bookreporter

“Oates has presented us with stories of mystery and dread, haunted not by ghosts but by the vulnerabilities of a complex society where drugs, race, and religious sway . . . create fear, paranoia and life-threatening circumstances.” —Rae Padill Francoeur, Wicked Local Saugas

“Exquisitely written . . . there is no better stylist alive than Joyce Carol Oates. . . . Read High Crime Area and prepare yourself for eight surprises, the number of stories in the book.” —David M. Kinchen, Huntington News

“These stories take the reader to desolate intersections and grimy tenements that mirror the dark reaches of the human soul; the combined elements of literary fiction with genre fiction and true crime offer added audience appeal.” —Library Journal

“Daring and provocative. [Oates] creates a wide range of vividly-written memorable characters. . . . [and] touches upon the deep fears which run through American society.” —Lonesome Reader