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"Heart of Darkness," The New York Review of Books, June 24, 2004

In this essay, Fraser asks, "What is it about Oates's work that has inspired such [critical] vitriol?" She finds that the answer may lie in "Oates's preoccupation with violence....As decades of critics have observed, Oates's primary subject is victimhood, and her work features a kind of Grand Guignol of every imaginable form of physical, psychological, and sexual violence: rape, incest, murder, molestation, cannibalism, torture, and bestiality. While violence is commonly an element of fiction, no American writer has devoted herself with more disquieting intensity to the experience and consequences of being victimized, a devotion that seems, strangely, to have inspired a kind of reactionary violence all its own."