Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer born on June 16, 1938 in Lockport, New York. As a child, she was always immersed in the world of books and literature. Her early influences include Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Bronte, and Henry David Thoreau. She was also an avid writer as a teenager, which led to her winning the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Award. After graduating from Williamsville South High School in 1956, she attended Syracuse University to study English and was named valedictorian after four years. Subsequently, Oates enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for her masters and later Rice University for her PhD. It was at this point she decided to become a full-time author.
In 2004, Joyce Carol Oates published a book of 19 short stories entitled I Am No One You Know. The general similarity of all the pieces resides in their focus on eccentric small-town individuals with immoral desires. It showcases the complexity of human nature and how individuals are led to commit vulgar, condemnable acts. For example, one of the stories, The Girl With the Blackened Eye, tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who is brutally abducted, beaten, and raped. Oates explores the mental impact of the assault on this girl who previously had a very run-of-the-mill life.
Upon its publication, I Am No One You Know garnered positive reviews from critics and audiences alike for its brutal depiction of the human race. However, Oates’ twisted style may also be a turnoff for some readers. As Kirkus Reviews states, as long as one “appreciates Oates' twisted sensibility, her penchant for delving into the more sinister, grotesque side of life,” her work is sure to be an enjoyable experience.