Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in the Service of Mind DVD Review: An Intimate Conversation with a Living Legend

In just 89 minutes, Stig Bjorkman, the director, brings us the life of one of America’s most prolific writers (over 100 published books and counting) in Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in Service of Mind. How does she get so much writing done? A cat. Ms. Oates tells us she sits down each morning hoping for an hour of solid work, but when she is done and tries to stand up, the cat on her lap puts her claws into her legs telling her it isn’t time yet. This sometimes goes on for ten hours. Later in the film, with a less playful answer, we learn Oates writes for around five hours in the mornings, and then revises the earlier work for three hours in the afternoon. It’s a minimum of 40 hours of writing a week, but one suspects she sneaks in more hours here and there.

With so much writing to choose from, Bjorkman makes the executive decision to focus on a few of the books with topics that had huge impacts on society. He focuses on the Detroit race riots (them), the Chappaquiddick incident (Black Water), the life of Norma Jean / Marilyn Monroe (Blonde), and the dissolution of an American family (We Were the Mulvaneys). Oates has written a rather large number of novels and collections of novellas that would be categorized as suspense, thriller, and sometimes horror novels. While no attention is paid to these genres, there is some light discussion about Oates writing under pseudonyms.

This documentary offers wonderful insight into the career and personal life of one of the world’s greatest writers. If you have not read her yet, it is recommended that you get a copy of Joyce Carol Oates: A Body in Service of Mind for an excellent introduction that will leave the stories intact for you to discover on your own. Oates has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction five times, and her name has been brought up for two or more decades for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The documentary features readings from Joyce Carol Oates’ work by Academy Award-winning actress Laura Dern.

Bonus Features:

  • Theatrical Trailer Plus Trailers for the Following:
  • The Elephant 6 Recording Co.
  • In the Company of Rose
  • Madeleine Collins
  • The Melt Goes on Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons
  • Two Tickets to Greece
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Greg Hammond

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