The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 17th, 2014
By the station’s elevator, a large woman in a denim dress had a long
coughing fit. A wild-bearded man with a vacant stare shambled from one
end of the concourse to the other and most of the way back, oblivious to
passengers hurrying for their trains. A student sat cross-legged on a
bench, staring intently at a spreadsheet on his laptop. Now and then a
faint scent of urine called attention to itself.
Any other day I might not have noticed any of this. But I’d been
invited to a celebration of Joyce Carol Oates’s years of teaching
creative writing at Princeton University, and I’d grabbed a couple of
her books at random to read on the way up, and one of them—Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart—opened like this:
"Little Red" Garlock, sixteen years old, skull smashed soft as a
rotten pumpkin and body dumped into the Cassadaga River at the foot of
Pitt Street, must not have sunk as he’d been intended to sink, or
floated as far.