Beach Read Of The Day

by Joseph Russell · July 18, 2008

Joyce Carroll OatesThose of you who find Joyce Carroll Oates' italics and breathless stream-of-conscience style irritating will not like this book. At all. The rest of you will totally love it. Set in the upper-middle-class 'burbs, My Sister, My Love is the story of nineteen year old Schuyler's 10 year struggle to cope with the murder of his little sister under the unabating glare of media flashbulbs.

I'm not sure if the Joan Benet-Ramsey parallel is intentional, but it's certainly striking -Schuyler's parents are scheming social climbers who constantly pushed first Schuyler (until he suffered crippling injuries during a gymnastics competition), and then Bliss, their figure-skating star of a daughter further into the spotlight. Now Schuyler is a drugged-up, overwraught, and introspective mess, and his narration is part an inditement of stage parents and skeletons, part mystery, and part elegy. This isn't really the easiest book to read, as we already know the story in all its lurid detail, but it's gripping and powerful and told (I thought) an uncannily accurate voice. 

[Image via the Strand]