Broke Heart Blues

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Penguin Publishing Group, Apr 7, 2000 - Fiction - 384 pages
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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.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The story of a handsome teenaged killer whose romantic notoriety reverberates for decades in the minds and hearts of his classmates and neighbors is the highly charged core of Oates's generously ... Read full review

Broke heart blues: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

YA-Oates gives over the first section of this three-part novel to a glacially paced telling of magnetically attractive John Reddy Heart's dramatic arrival in Willowsville, NY, from Las Vegas at age 11 ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Joyce Carol Oates was born on June 16, 1938 in Lockport, New York. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Syracuse University and a master's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin. She is the author of numerous novels and collections of short stories. Her works include We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, Bellefleur, You Must Remember This, Because It Is Bitter, Because It Is My Heart, Solstice, Marya : A Life, and Give Me Your Heart. She has received numerous awards including the National Book Award for Them, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Literature. She was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her title Lovely, Dark, Deep. She also wrote a series of suspense novels under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith. In 2015, her novel The Accursed became listed as a bestseller on the iBooks chart. She worked as a professor of English at the University of Windsor, before becoming the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. She and her late husband Raymond J. Smith operated a small press and published a literary magazine, The Ontario Review.

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