Broke Heart Blues

Front Cover
Penguin Group USA, Apr 7, 2000 - Fiction - 369 pages
17 Reviews
In the heat of a languid July, fresh from Las Vegas, John Reddy Heart drives into the quiet upstate town of Willowsville, New York. Eleven years old, piloting a traffic-stopping, salmon-colored Cadillac, he arrives with his stunning mother beside him, his grandfather and younger siblings in the backseat. His mother is Dahlia Heart, a blackjack dealer of dubious reputation who always dresses in white. She has come to Willowsville to claim the rambling mansion left to her by one of her wealthy suitors. But it is John Reddy - already growing into a heartbreaking hybrid of James Dean, Brando, and Elvis - who will claim the town itself. It is John Reddy who will arouse the desire of Willowsville's teenage girls and the worship of its boys; the fear and envy of its men, and the yearning of its women. And it is John Reddy who will capture the town's soul forever on the night a prominent citizen is shot dead in Dahlia Heart's bedroom - and a statewide manhunt sweeps Willowsville's rebel outlaw into the realm of a living myth. Over the course of thirty years, from the sixties through the nineties, Broke Heart Blues charts the rise and fall - and ultimate call to reckoning - of John Reddy Heart, through the myriad voices of those who find in him their whipping boy, savior, dream lover, and confessor. At once a scathing indictment of the cult-like nature of fame and celebrity in America, and a meditation on human need and longing, it is a powerful and provocative achievement.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
3
4 stars
4
3 stars
6
2 stars
3
1 star
1

Review: Broke Heart Blues

User Review  - Kate - Goodreads

I thought this book was delicious. It latched on to the sentiments and perceptions of an era and dragged a multitude of characters through it. I could imagine my Mom in her high school bedroom or her friends at a 30th reunion right alongside this crew. Did NOT want the story to end. Read full review

Review: Broke Heart Blues

User Review  - Angela - Goodreads

This is my second attempt to read this book. I'm more interested in it this time than previously, but it's still hard to get through. Not my favorite book by this author. Read full review

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)

Joyce Carol Oates was born in 1938 in Upstate, New York. She attended Syracuse University and graduated as Valedictorian. She then attended University of Wisconsin where she earned an M. A. By the time she was 47 years old, she had published at least that many separate books, including 16 full-length novels and more than a dozen collections of short stories. Some of her works were done under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith. She has also written numerous poems collected in several volumes, at least three plays, many critical essays, and articles and reviews on various subjects while fulfilling her obligations as a professor of English at the University of Windsor, where with her husband Raymond Smith she edited the Ontario Review, which the couple has continued since moving to Princeton in 1978. She has earned a reputation as indubitably one of our most prolific writers and very likely one of our best. Her fiction alone demonstrates considerable variety, ranging from direct naturalism to complex experiments in form. However, what chiefly makes her work her own is a quality of psychological realism, an uncanny ability to bring to the surface an underlying sense of foreboding or a threat of violence that seems to lurk just around the corner from the everyday domestic lives she depicts so realistically. Her first six novels, including Them (1969), which won the National Book Award, express these qualities in varying ways. she is also the recipient of an NEA grant, a Guggenheim fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Lifetime Achievement Award, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. Her title Give Me Your Heart made the New York Times Best seller list for 2011.

Bibliographic information