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Breathe: A Novel
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Published:
HarperCollins 2021
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Description

A NOVEL OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM BESTSELLING AND PRIZEWINNING AUTHOR JOYCE CAROL OATES

Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood - and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.

In vividly depicted scenes of escalating suspense, Michaela cares desperately for Gerard in his final days as she comes to realize that her love for her husband, however fierce and selfless, is not enough to save him and that his death is beyond her comprehension. A love that refuses to be surrendered at death—is this the blessing of a unique married love, or a curse that must be exorcized?

Part intimately detailed love story, part horror story rooted in real life, BREATHE is an exploration of hauntedness rooted in the domesticity of marital love, as well as our determination both to be faithful to the beloved and to survive the trauma of loss.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/03/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780063085497
ASIN:
B08THQV61B
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Joyce Carol Oates. (2021). Breathe: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Joyce Carol Oates. 2021. Breathe: A Novel. HarperCollins.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Joyce Carol Oates, Breathe: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Joyce Carol Oates. Breathe: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2021.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Grouped Work ID:
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Needs Update?:
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Date Added:
Aug 02, 2021 10:07:44
Date Updated:
Dec 19, 2022 19:26:45
Last Metadata Check:
Jan 22, 2023 16:23:13
Last Metadata Change:
Jan 08, 2023 16:35:54
Last Availability Check:
Jan 22, 2023 16:23:19
Last Availability Change:
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Last Grouped Work Modification Time:
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        Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the 2019 Jerusalem Prize, and has been several times nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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title
Breathe
fullDescription

A NOVEL OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM BESTSELLING AND PRIZEWINNING AUTHOR JOYCE CAROL OATES

Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood - and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.

In vividly depicted scenes of escalating suspense, Michaela cares desperately for Gerard in his final days as she comes to realize that her love for her husband, however fierce and selfless, is not enough to save him and that his death is beyond her comprehension. A love that refuses to be surrendered at death—is this the blessing of a unique married love, or a curse that must be exorcized?

Part intimately detailed love story, part horror story rooted in real life, BREATHE is an exploration of hauntedness rooted in the domesticity of marital love, as well as our determination both to be faithful to the beloved and to survive the trauma of loss.

reviews
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      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content:

        "Breathe is a fever dream of a novel, and it's as an allegory of grief that it most sparkles. . . . Breathe is also a moving meditation on grief time, where there is no beginning, no end, and 'each hour, each day, passes with excruciating slowness yet it is all happening very quickly.'. . . Oates lands the book's wonderful ending. . . . Surprising and inevitable." — New York Times Book Review

        "Breathe is the highly affecting story of a woman facing the unimaginable loss of her spouse. . . . It's hard to know what is real and what is imagined as the novel rushes toward its shocking and ambiguous ending." — Associated Press

        "Effective and harrowing." — Santa Fe New Mexican

        "Powerful. . . . Fecund with fear and anguish, and driven by raw, breathless narration, this hallucinatory tale will not disappoint. Oates is on a roll."
        Publishers Weekly (starred review)

        "Gut-wrenching and devoid of sentimentality. . . . Recommended." — Library Journal

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from June 28, 2021
        Shards of nightmarish grief coalesce in Oates’s powerful latest (after The (Other) You), a fever dream unleashed when a woman fails to come to terms with the death of her husband. As the story opens, memoir writer Michaela wills her older, very ill husband, Gerard McManus, a distinguished historian of science, to breathe. Midway through the book, he succumbs to his multiple maladies: pneumonia, lung cancer, and a urethral tumor. Michaela then finds his death impossible to believe, or to accept. Overwhelmed, she drifts and is jerked in and out of reality. Sometimes she is unsure if Gerard is really dead; she sees him in other men, and believes Gerard is compelling her to follow each one. She is terrified by statues of Pueblo gods that decorate the house they’d rented together, yet cannot bear to leave. These gods—and other myths, that of Eurydice and Orpheus for one—inhabit her dreams and obsess Michaela as she spirals into a surreal and open-ended denouement that will be hotly debated by readers. Fecund with fear and anguish, and driven by raw, breathless narration, this hallucinatory tale will not disappoint. Oates is on a roll.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        July 1, 2021
        Oates presents a work of psychological terror grounded in marital love. Gerard and Michaela, a distinguished neuroscience professor and his much-younger second wife, relocate from Cambridge to New Mexico for a prestigious academic residency. Soon after, he falls ill and is eventually diagnosed with terminal cancer. As his physical condition deteriorates, so does Michaela's emotional state. Struggling to keep her husband alive through sheer force of will, she is haunted by the surreal landscape of the surrounding desert and the nightmarish depictions of local tribal gods that decorate their rental house. Her only respite from Gerard's illness is the weekly memoir-writing class she teaches in a nearby city, but even this brief absence comes to feel like an abandonment for which she will be--or is already being--punished. A fictional counterpart to Oates' memoir A Widow's Story (2011), which explores the aftermath of her first husband's sudden death, Breathe will appeal to fans of intensely interiorized literary fiction, psychological suspense like Chris Bohjalian's The Flight Attendant (2018), and searing explorations of grief and loss like Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005).

        COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        July 23, 2021

        While living temporarily in New Mexico on a research fellowship, Harvard professor Gerard McManus is first overtaken by a lung infection and then terminal cancer. His wife Michaela, a memoirist, keeps a vigil at his hospital bedside, overwhelmed by grief and disbelief at his rapid decline and the complete upending of their lives. Michaela's shock and denial transforms into psychosis, as she (perhaps) imagines an alternate reality where Gerard survives. Occasionally--as when she attempts to help a student from her memoir workshop who's in crisis--Michaela presents a front of normalcy and lucidity, but these moments are increasingly overshadowed by surreal episodes where she imagines seeing Gerard, or a version of him, in various settings. The New Mexico landscape and its indigenous gods (which Michaela finds threatening) also play a strong part in the narrative. VERDICT Oates has dedicated the novel to her late husband, Charlie Gross, who passed away in 2019. While the characters here are decades younger than Oates and Gross, one can speculate that she drew upon her own grief in crafting this novel, which is gut-wrenching and devoid of sentimentality. Oates doesn't pander to the reader and leaves Michaela's duality open to interpretation. Recommended.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

        Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A NOVEL OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM BESTSELLING AND PRIZEWINNING AUTHOR JOYCE CAROL OATES

Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood - and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.

In vividly depicted scenes of escalating suspense, Michaela cares desperately for Gerard in his final days as she comes to realize that her love for her husband, however fierce and selfless, is not enough to save him and that his death is beyond her comprehension. A love that refuses to be surrendered at death—is this the blessing of a unique married love, or a curse that must be exorcized?

Part intimately...

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publisher
HarperCollins