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There were so many themes running throughout this book that I almost started taking notes. Aside from the obvious - there was another level of the inner workings of denial, depression, and psychological mechanisms involved in self hate and the projections thereof.

Joyce Carol Oates is a genius. Her understanding of how we work out our self delusions in our relationships is astounding - and then to top it off she is able to write a story, excellent plot and all, that takes us into that world if w There were so many themes running throughout this book that I almost started taking notes.

Her understanding of how we work out our self delusions in our relationships is astounding - and then to top it off she is able to write a story, excellent plot and all, that takes us into that world if we allow ourselves to go there.

However, to me, if you do not see the deeper layers and experience them viscerally, her book could seem a bit dull. Simply reading her for the top layer of plot is not going to be enough.

Jun 19, Joy H. Besides, I have great respect for Joyce Carol Oates' writing. I'll be listening to this book in my browser. Young but in failing health, he reluctantly admits that he can no longer live alone and launches a search for an assistant.

He is dissatisfied with everyone he meets until he encounters Alma. A young woman with synthetic-looking blond hair and pale, tattooed skin, she stirs something inside him.

Hope it stays as engrossing! In fact, sometimes Alma "grosses" me out! This book certainly draws you in! June 20, Well, I've finished the book.

The ending puzzled me. I certainly didn't expect it to end that way. The meaning of the last sentence can mean so many things. It can be debated for a long time.

The last words in the story were: view spoiler ["It's over. There's justice now. For those of you, more ambitious than I am, see the following links for explanations.

When you get to the web pages, you may have to do the "Search" application to find related words. Years ago, I fell into Oates.

From there, I jumped into one novel, then another and another. It seemed like I was going to read a lot of Oates in my lifetime.

But I could tell her writing was a bit hit or miss, a consequence likely from her prolificacy. So I told myself years ago that the next Oates I would read would be the collection that contained the story that got me into Oates's writing originally.

I had a copy of Heat on my she Years ago, I fell into Oates. I had a copy of Heat on my shelf and, despite the best intentions, it remained unread.

More than eight years have passed since I last read Oates. I was fed up with looking at Heat in my to-read pile, so I decided to do something about it: I read The Tattooed Girl.

I don't know why, but at least it delivered me from my Oates drought. So here's the thing about The Tattooed Girl : it has some problems right away.

First and foremost, there are some cliches about that are probably best left alone at this point. Sure, these people exist—I'm sure Oates herself knows quite a few of them—but reading about them is almost as painful as reading any novel about an author.

If there's ever an author in my own fiction, he or she will be an object of satire and nothing more, I swear. But even with the overwrought author and the sexy, sexualized girl who shows up at his door to be an assistant, the book holds some promise.

The dynamics are interesting enough. The characters show some potential for growth. And the mystery and tension build steadily.

But then Oates does what she does best: she moves onto the next novel. I mean, when Oates has a great story and takes the time to develop it, it is a magical thing.

That said, I've read enough to know that the greatest care is not put into all of her novels. Look at how often she publishes and you get an idea of why this may be—she's just not taking ample time with some stories that deserve more.

The result in The Tattooed Girl is that despite building some fabulous albeit cliched characters, Oates could care less about them. They don't really develop, certainly not naturally.

It feels as though these are merely character sketches that are quickly thrown on the page with very little affection. Good ideas abound, but the self-indulgence of a good idea does not breathe life into a story.

The Tattooed Girl is chock full of ideas, but it lacks the pulse to make it a thing of beauty. Oct 03, Maya Lang rated it liked it. A provocative exploration of prejudice and the complex factors that thwart or foster human compassion.

Joshua Seigl is a reclusive scholar and writer whose world view does not extend past his own navel.

He is neurotic and obsessive, and a series of interviews for an assistant early in the novel reveal cringe-worthy moments of misanthropy. Seigl is, in short, not a figure from whom we expect kindness.

Enter Alma Busch, the tattooed girl whose very skin invites pity. She is a victim of abuse, curr A provocative exploration of prejudice and the complex factors that thwart or foster human compassion.

She is a victim of abuse, current and previous, and several graphic scenes ensue that make it clear we are supposed to root for her. On one hand, it is masterful how Oates pits these expectations against us.

Seigl finds his new tattooed assistant indispensable. He pities her as we do in a naive, sometimes patronizing show of privileged liberal guilt.

Alma, we soon learn, is a Holocaust denier. Her actions and views are reprehensible. Oates is clearly going out of her way to make us question our own prejudices and reactions.

When do we feel compassion and when do we deem it "worthy"? At a certain point in the novel, the reader wants the poor infirm Seigl to stop trusting Alma, to realize he is being exploited.

All of this is thought-provoking, fertile this review is already much longer than I intended it to be because the material here is so rich.

That said, I think the concepts are better than the execution. It bothers me when the discussions a book can foster are better than the novel itself.

It should be the reverse, I think. Truly excellent novels thwart our ability to discuss them. The prose here was not Oates' best, and her characters felt like chess pieces, moved this way and that with an objective in mind.

I was left thinking about this novel for quite some time, so that alone is worth quite a bit, but compassion--that very quality Oates is urging us to consider--felt lacking.

Joyce Carol Oates does it again. I felt unnerved and enthralled and engrossed and disturbed all at once. The Tattooed Girl is replete with contradictions and crammed full of ignorance and hate.

The story progresses slowly and goes a little bit of nowhere, more of a snapshot of two lives than a start-to-finish spoon-fed tale, but that just so happens to be something that I liked about it.

As for the writing itself, it was engaging and poetic--perfect pace and timing to drive forward that which is Joyce Carol Oates does it again. As for the writing itself, it was engaging and poetic--perfect pace and timing to drive forward that which is otherwise too base to capture the eye.

I was particularly drawn to the tragic, self-defeating genius of Seigl. Honestly, I kind of fell for him in the second chapter in which his neuroses were exposed through a vein of dark humor.

Alma, on the other hand, was a tough nut. Dull and ignorant at times; perceptive and capable at others. Like an abused animal will bite the hand that cares and feeds, she is hard to disregard in spite of her truly disturbing actions.

Was it perfect? Were there characters I absolutely abhorred and would have been happier never having met? Did the last couple pages steal a little something from me?

Jun 18, Jim Leckband rated it it was ok. Oates plays with the concept of how inclusion or exclusion in a group affects how we end up living our lives.

The two main characters are a rich, half-non-practicing Jewish male, successful writer not unlike Philip Roth - who is the book's dedicatee and a poor, uneducated, half-practicing Christian young woman who has a lot of poorly done tatoos.

As you can tell - Oates is fairly obvious in delineating the difference between them. The author character has written a novel based on his relative's Oates plays with the concept of how inclusion or exclusion in a group affects how we end up living our lives.

The author character has written a novel based on his relative's experiences in pre-WWII Germany and in the death camps - this holocaust reference is also a fairly obvious nod to what happens when a group's prejudices are dangerously out of sync with reality.

Oates has done better in my opinion - though below-par Oates is way above most of the other fiction out there in my opinion!

Mar 09, Hareem rated it it was amazing. I loved Siegl. But I found Alma hard to believe in, at times. Felt like her backstory needed some more specifics.

That came across as overkill. It gave her too much of a flatness. But when and why she turned? That was obscured, underdeveloped and therefor I loved Siegl.

That was obscured, underdeveloped and therefore it lacked a certain credibility. But here I am, a day later, still mentally piecing together her story.

And for providing this mental preoccupation, I give five stars to JCO. I love Joyce Carol Oates. She is beautiful and creepy and dark and always finds a new voice, even if on similiar themes.

I read this book in two days. The Tattooed Girl features two main characters, Joshua Siegl, a half-Jewish writer with a secret condition, and Alma, the mysterious girl he employs.

Oates is not afraid to write about what's dark and ugly about people's secret thoughts and wishes. There are twists and turns, and a total WTF ending.

Good for a dark and stormy night. Apr 23, Jillian rated it really liked it Shelves: scary. JCO names one character as having borderline personality disorder, but as far as I'm concerned, Alma has it as well.

The "hero" Joshua Seigl seems to run from one borderline his sister to another, under the illusion that he can rescue her. Obviously, the author has researched the characteristics of borderline disorder and the result is an intelligent, suspenseful, psychological thriller.

Feb 05, Michael rated it liked it Shelves: s , literature. I read this book very quickly. Sort of like when you know there's bad news coming and you want the person to hurry the fuck up and tell you what it is.

Very enjoyable, very dark. Edward Gorey would like this book. May 10, Ruth rated it really liked it. I was glued to the pages.

Flew through this one in two afternoons. Fascinating characters, fascinating story. Only flaw was the ending, in which Oates gave in to her flair for the melodramatic.

View all 3 comments. I was really impressed with her novelization of Marilyn Monroe's life in Blonde which I read last year. I have several others of her novels on my shelves and decided randomly to read this one, The Tattooed Girl.

It tells the story of a writer named Joshua Seigl who is part Jewish and who wrote a novel called The Shadows about the Holocaust which was avoided by Seigl's grandfather.

Joshua is in failing health with a neurological problem and at the same time is busy writing essays and translating Virgil's Aeneid and has fallen way behind on addressing his correspondence and his stacks of partially finished works.

So he decides he needs an assistant to help him. After turning down some well-qualified candidates, he meets by chance a young woman working in a bookstore that he decides to hire.

She is very meek and soft-spoken and she is also covered with some very unseemly tattoos including one on her face that could be a moth or Joshua thinks it may just be a birthmark.

The young woman named Alma has an abusive past as well as an abusive boyfriend who works as a waiter in a restaurant frequented by Seigl.

As Alma gets to know Seigl, she seems to be a good assistant but deep down, she is anti-Semitic and has a hatred for him.

She was raised in rural Pennsylvania where the coal mines have been constantly burning and were owned as she was told by Jew bankers. And then her boyfriend also despises the Jews and tells her that the Holocaust was a hoax.

This novel could probably be considered a suspense story with Alma thinking of ways she can do away with Seigl.

But at its core, it is a novel based on anti-Semitism and the hatred of people based on ignorance. As it progresses, the story becomes more intense with Seigl struggling with his illness and Alma pretending to admire him and do as he wishes.

But the story twists and the ending was a real shocker! I'll be looking forward to reading more of Oates and I would definitely recommend this one.

Feb 28, Emily Goenner rated it it was ok. Another book to support my contention that Oates is uneven--some I love, some I can't read.

This one was ok, but slow and repetitive. I felt like it was a series of short stories patched together into a novel because of the way details were repeated over and over yes, I know the characters' descriptions already!

I ended up skipping about pages to learn "what happened" or I think I'd have abandoned it altogether and was disappointed with the final scene.

View 1 comment. Sep 27, Diana rated it it was ok Shelves: Jan 15, Nicole rated it it was ok Shelves: club-de-lecture One sometimes wonders, with contemporary American novelists, if they have ever left their homes and interacted with an actual human being.

Jan 03, Joelb rated it it was amazing. We tend to think of evil as dramatic or spectacular. Joyce Carol Oates knows the true shape of evil and portrays it in all its banality.

Evil seeps into our lives, twisting and warping our perceptions until the twisted seems normal. So it is for Alma Busch, the tattooed girl of the title.

Her mining town childhood is revealed in bits, but characterized as a smoking hell both physically and emotionally. As a young woman in her early 20s, Alma drifts from one self-destructive event to the next, with not enough self-awareness or linguistic capability to understand or describe what happens to her.

Alma is easy prey for Dimitri, an amoral server who feeds her scraps, berates her, and shares her body with his friends. She will do anything for him simply because he deigns to notice her.

She adopts his virulent anti-semitism and general suspicion of others. Through happenstance, Alma becomes the personal assistant of Joshua Siegl, a successful novelist, essayist, and public intellectual who lives alone in s large house with a substantial fortune to match.

He needs his life organized and hires Alma to do it. Alma is convinced she hates him, yet she becomes very devoted to him.

Despite her devotion, Alma plots to kill him. Siegl becomes ill, though, with a degenerative disease, sending the novel on a different trajectory.

Back to evil. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oates is an excellent writer. It was a pleasure to read this because she has a way of putting together words beautifully.

It was a quick read, but still addressed issues worth thinking about: gender, class, education, and the way people who differ vastly can get along and grow to love each other or not.

It was a very well-done novel written from two very different but very interesting points of view. The drawback is that it was so unpleasant.

I don't know. Throw in a dick joke now and then. That's Shakespeare's famous one-two punch of tragedy. Also, it reminded me at times of David Mamet's play, Oleanna.

This is neither a good nor bad thing, just a thing. There was a similar focus on gender roles and the shifting power associated with them, as well as an obnoxiously pompous academic as a main character.

As an obnoxiously pompous academic, I say, Huzzah! Four stars. Mar 30, Faith Reidenbach rated it it was ok Shelves: read-fiction. Into each life some Joyce Carol Oates must fall.

Read this for a book group. Stereotypical characters, stereotypical victimization of the female lead. Ending reads like it was written by an 8th-grade boy.

I did appreciate the conversation between a wealthy, famous Jewish writer and an uneducated, unsophisticated anti-Semite about whether the Holocaust happened.

As usual, was bored by having a lead character who's a writer, but a little less so here because we see the burdens of fame for that writ Into each life some Joyce Carol Oates must fall.

As usual, was bored by having a lead character who's a writer, but a little less so here because we see the burdens of fame for that writer, who is possibly modeled on Oates herself.

My paperback edition carries a cover picture of a girl with a dragon tattoo, not at all the type of tattoo the title character has.

I wonder whose idea that was? I wonder whether it helps sales? Aug 13, Meri rated it did not like it Shelves: bookclubbooks. The synopsis on the book jacket is pretty deceiving.

It makes this "tattooed girl" seem so alluring and mysterious, which made us book club members curious about reading it.

Well, this story is a big depressing angry mess. It's all about ignorance. The author guy has no clue his assistant is a stupid anti-Semite, and she has no clue about much of anything.

It's hard to feel sorry for her. There were small glimmers of good writing, but not enough to save this book. View 2 comments. Readers also enjoyed.

Literary Fiction. Adult Fiction. About Joyce Carol Oates. Joyce Carol Oates. She is also the recipient of the Prix Femina for The Falls.

She is the Roger S. Rosamond Smith and Lauren Kelly. Books by Joyce Carol Oates. Related Articles. Irish author Eoin Colfer is best known for his wildly popular middle grade series Artemis Fowl.

So, readers may be a bit surprised that his Read more Trivia About The Tattooed Girl. No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from The Tattooed Girl.

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True, the characters are deeply flawed, broken, and ignorant - but that's what her books are all about. You want a romance story between a writer and a girl with tattoos go pick up that other book that was wildly popular a few years ago.

In this story, what resonated strongly for me is that the relationship between Joshua and Alma re There are so many negative reviews of this book that for a moment I thought I had made a wrong selection!

In this story, what resonated strongly for me is that the relationship between Joshua and Alma represents our ability to "mis-know" another by projecting thoughts, stereotypes, and fantasies onto them.

I don't know about you, but isn't that your greatest fear? Scary, page-turning stuff indeed. I debated with myself whether to recommend this book or not.

The characters are for the most part believable and complex, with a lot of issues. The story is very dark and unrelenting, however, and I read the entire book with d I debated with myself whether to recommend this book or not.

The story is very dark and unrelenting, however, and I read the entire book with dread, anticipating an unhappy and crushing end. Not that I am a sucker for Hollywood endings, but I do like some redeeming values, happenings, actions in a book.

The book feels rather cut short also. So, despite all its good parts, this one goes without recommendation, but if you feel up to it and especially if you enjoy the authors other work do not hesitate.

May 05, Snotchocheez rated it really liked it. Perhaps I'm biased, but JCO hasn't ever written a bad book, in my opinion.

The reviews for "The Tattooed Girl" were somewhat lukewarm, at best. I think it is probably one of her better books.

With some of her longer material, she has a tendancy to run on and on, covering the same ground again and again. Not so with short books like "The Tattooed Girl".

An economy of English is exhibited; and it's all killer, no filler. I'm not sure that I like the ending all that much, but it's not terrible and doesn't really take away from the enjoyability of the book.

She's very matter of fact This is my first Joyce Carol Oates book and I am quite pleased with the writing, but not too devoted to this particular plot or, for that matter, the characters.

Aug 27, Elizabeth Moeller rated it really liked it. At times, the characters in this novel seem more like actors in a parable, than real, fully fleshed humans.

There is the chubby, sexual, dumb blond girl from the poor desolate lands of western Pennsylvania; the wealthy, intellectual Jewish man whose defining features are guilt and obliviousness; and the swarthy, angular hustler who uses the girl in hopes of getting to the man.

All of these characters orbit around each other in a suburb of Rochester, NY, experiencing differing versions of underst At times, the characters in this novel seem more like actors in a parable, than real, fully fleshed humans.

All of these characters orbit around each other in a suburb of Rochester, NY, experiencing differing versions of understanding and love and hate.

What keeps the novel from feeling too much like an exercise in exploring why people hate or cannot relate to each other is the ending.

I won't destroy the emotional impact of the two events at the end that are the culmination of the love and hate that course through the book.

The way in which the author was able to depict the emotions related to these events really raised the value of the story for me.

The personalities and actions of the characters throughout the book snapped into focus and made sense as leading up to what occurs.

In addition to the emotional impact of the story, I also really enjoyed the examination of what it means to be a reader or an intellectual versus someone who has no use for big ideas or stories.

I respected that the author was able to examine and question both sides of this divide without making one side seem superior.

Mar 22, Lois Bouchard rated it it was amazing. This book really disturbed me and grabbed me at the same time. There was a lot to think about.

The author skilfully weaves a tale of such sadness, anger, poignancy, and pure evil that it took my breath away. The way she introduces the true natures of each of the characters was great.

Alma was antisemitic without having any real idea of why except that her less-than-savory family had been bigoted against Jews.

But, hey, isn't that quite true of most bigotry? Her self-loathing had obviously been s This book really disturbed me and grabbed me at the same time.

Her self-loathing had obviously been spawned by the same wonderful family. Her pathetic need to cling to the nasty Dimitri with no understanding of her real allure gave way to the start of a deep affection for Joshua Seigl and the basis of a real understanding of herself.

Joshua was as ignorant of his own inner self as Alma was. He was in love with Alma on some level practically from the first time he met her, but didn't really have any idea of what to do with his feelings.

What his actual disease was didn't seem too important to me. He really didn't have any help in dealing with it psychologically.

Not that he probably would have accepted that help anyway. The dark climax of the book left me stunned. Joyce Carol Oates has my vote.

May 10, Roxanne rated it really liked it Recommended to Roxanne by: roxannebcb comcast. There were so many themes running throughout this book that I almost started taking notes.

Aside from the obvious - there was another level of the inner workings of denial, depression, and psychological mechanisms involved in self hate and the projections thereof.

Joyce Carol Oates is a genius. Her understanding of how we work out our self delusions in our relationships is astounding - and then to top it off she is able to write a story, excellent plot and all, that takes us into that world if w There were so many themes running throughout this book that I almost started taking notes.

Her understanding of how we work out our self delusions in our relationships is astounding - and then to top it off she is able to write a story, excellent plot and all, that takes us into that world if we allow ourselves to go there.

However, to me, if you do not see the deeper layers and experience them viscerally, her book could seem a bit dull. Simply reading her for the top layer of plot is not going to be enough.

Jun 19, Joy H. Besides, I have great respect for Joyce Carol Oates' writing. I'll be listening to this book in my browser. Young but in failing health, he reluctantly admits that he can no longer live alone and launches a search for an assistant.

He is dissatisfied with everyone he meets until he encounters Alma. A young woman with synthetic-looking blond hair and pale, tattooed skin, she stirs something inside him.

Hope it stays as engrossing! In fact, sometimes Alma "grosses" me out! This book certainly draws you in! June 20, Well, I've finished the book.

The ending puzzled me. I certainly didn't expect it to end that way. The meaning of the last sentence can mean so many things.

It can be debated for a long time. The last words in the story were: view spoiler ["It's over. There's justice now. For those of you, more ambitious than I am, see the following links for explanations.

When you get to the web pages, you may have to do the "Search" application to find related words. Years ago, I fell into Oates.

From there, I jumped into one novel, then another and another. It seemed like I was going to read a lot of Oates in my lifetime.

But I could tell her writing was a bit hit or miss, a consequence likely from her prolificacy. So I told myself years ago that the next Oates I would read would be the collection that contained the story that got me into Oates's writing originally.

I had a copy of Heat on my she Years ago, I fell into Oates. I had a copy of Heat on my shelf and, despite the best intentions, it remained unread.

More than eight years have passed since I last read Oates. I was fed up with looking at Heat in my to-read pile, so I decided to do something about it: I read The Tattooed Girl.

I don't know why, but at least it delivered me from my Oates drought. So here's the thing about The Tattooed Girl : it has some problems right away.

First and foremost, there are some cliches about that are probably best left alone at this point. Sure, these people exist—I'm sure Oates herself knows quite a few of them—but reading about them is almost as painful as reading any novel about an author.

If there's ever an author in my own fiction, he or she will be an object of satire and nothing more, I swear. But even with the overwrought author and the sexy, sexualized girl who shows up at his door to be an assistant, the book holds some promise.

The dynamics are interesting enough. The characters show some potential for growth. And the mystery and tension build steadily.

But then Oates does what she does best: she moves onto the next novel. I mean, when Oates has a great story and takes the time to develop it, it is a magical thing.

That said, I've read enough to know that the greatest care is not put into all of her novels. Look at how often she publishes and you get an idea of why this may be—she's just not taking ample time with some stories that deserve more.

The result in The Tattooed Girl is that despite building some fabulous albeit cliched characters, Oates could care less about them. They don't really develop, certainly not naturally.

It feels as though these are merely character sketches that are quickly thrown on the page with very little affection.

Good ideas abound, but the self-indulgence of a good idea does not breathe life into a story. The Tattooed Girl is chock full of ideas, but it lacks the pulse to make it a thing of beauty.

Oct 03, Maya Lang rated it liked it. A provocative exploration of prejudice and the complex factors that thwart or foster human compassion.

Joshua Seigl is a reclusive scholar and writer whose world view does not extend past his own navel. He is neurotic and obsessive, and a series of interviews for an assistant early in the novel reveal cringe-worthy moments of misanthropy.

Seigl is, in short, not a figure from whom we expect kindness. Enter Alma Busch, the tattooed girl whose very skin invites pity.

She is a victim of abuse, curr A provocative exploration of prejudice and the complex factors that thwart or foster human compassion.

She is a victim of abuse, current and previous, and several graphic scenes ensue that make it clear we are supposed to root for her.

On one hand, it is masterful how Oates pits these expectations against us. Seigl finds his new tattooed assistant indispensable.

He pities her as we do in a naive, sometimes patronizing show of privileged liberal guilt. Alma, we soon learn, is a Holocaust denier.

Her actions and views are reprehensible. Oates is clearly going out of her way to make us question our own prejudices and reactions. When do we feel compassion and when do we deem it "worthy"?

At a certain point in the novel, the reader wants the poor infirm Seigl to stop trusting Alma, to realize he is being exploited. All of this is thought-provoking, fertile this review is already much longer than I intended it to be because the material here is so rich.

That said, I think the concepts are better than the execution. It bothers me when the discussions a book can foster are better than the novel itself.

It should be the reverse, I think. Truly excellent novels thwart our ability to discuss them. The prose here was not Oates' best, and her characters felt like chess pieces, moved this way and that with an objective in mind.

I was left thinking about this novel for quite some time, so that alone is worth quite a bit, but compassion--that very quality Oates is urging us to consider--felt lacking.

Joyce Carol Oates does it again. I felt unnerved and enthralled and engrossed and disturbed all at once.

The Tattooed Girl is replete with contradictions and crammed full of ignorance and hate. The story progresses slowly and goes a little bit of nowhere, more of a snapshot of two lives than a start-to-finish spoon-fed tale, but that just so happens to be something that I liked about it.

As for the writing itself, it was engaging and poetic--perfect pace and timing to drive forward that which is Joyce Carol Oates does it again.

As for the writing itself, it was engaging and poetic--perfect pace and timing to drive forward that which is otherwise too base to capture the eye.

I was particularly drawn to the tragic, self-defeating genius of Seigl. Honestly, I kind of fell for him in the second chapter in which his neuroses were exposed through a vein of dark humor.

Alma, on the other hand, was a tough nut. Dull and ignorant at times; perceptive and capable at others.

Like an abused animal will bite the hand that cares and feeds, she is hard to disregard in spite of her truly disturbing actions. Was it perfect?

Were there characters I absolutely abhorred and would have been happier never having met? Did the last couple pages steal a little something from me?

Jun 18, Jim Leckband rated it it was ok. Oates plays with the concept of how inclusion or exclusion in a group affects how we end up living our lives.

The two main characters are a rich, half-non-practicing Jewish male, successful writer not unlike Philip Roth - who is the book's dedicatee and a poor, uneducated, half-practicing Christian young woman who has a lot of poorly done tatoos.

As you can tell - Oates is fairly obvious in delineating the difference between them. The author character has written a novel based on his relative's Oates plays with the concept of how inclusion or exclusion in a group affects how we end up living our lives.

The author character has written a novel based on his relative's experiences in pre-WWII Germany and in the death camps - this holocaust reference is also a fairly obvious nod to what happens when a group's prejudices are dangerously out of sync with reality.

Oates has done better in my opinion - though below-par Oates is way above most of the other fiction out there in my opinion! Mar 09, Hareem rated it it was amazing.

I loved Siegl. But I found Alma hard to believe in, at times. Felt like her backstory needed some more specifics.

That came across as overkill. It gave her too much of a flatness. But when and why she turned? That was obscured, underdeveloped and therefor I loved Siegl.

That was obscured, underdeveloped and therefore it lacked a certain credibility. But here I am, a day later, still mentally piecing together her story.

And for providing this mental preoccupation, I give five stars to JCO. I love Joyce Carol Oates. She is beautiful and creepy and dark and always finds a new voice, even if on similiar themes.

I read this book in two days. The Tattooed Girl features two main characters, Joshua Siegl, a half-Jewish writer with a secret condition, and Alma, the mysterious girl he employs.

Oates is not afraid to write about what's dark and ugly about people's secret thoughts and wishes. There are twists and turns, and a total WTF ending.

Good for a dark and stormy night. Apr 23, Jillian rated it really liked it Shelves: scary. JCO names one character as having borderline personality disorder, but as far as I'm concerned, Alma has it as well.

The "hero" Joshua Seigl seems to run from one borderline his sister to another, under the illusion that he can rescue her.

Obviously, the author has researched the characteristics of borderline disorder and the result is an intelligent, suspenseful, psychological thriller.

Feb 05, Michael rated it liked it Shelves: s , literature. I read this book very quickly. Sort of like when you know there's bad news coming and you want the person to hurry the fuck up and tell you what it is.

Very enjoyable, very dark. Edward Gorey would like this book. May 10, Ruth rated it really liked it. I was glued to the pages.

Flew through this one in two afternoons. Fascinating characters, fascinating story. Only flaw was the ending, in which Oates gave in to her flair for the melodramatic.

View all 3 comments. I was really impressed with her novelization of Marilyn Monroe's life in Blonde which I read last year.

I have several others of her novels on my shelves and decided randomly to read this one, The Tattooed Girl.

It tells the story of a writer named Joshua Seigl who is part Jewish and who wrote a novel called The Shadows about the Holocaust which was avoided by Seigl's grandfather.

Joshua is in failing health with a neurological problem and at the same time is busy writing essays and translating Virgil's Aeneid and has fallen way behind on addressing his correspondence and his stacks of partially finished works.

So he decides he needs an assistant to help him. After turning down some well-qualified candidates, he meets by chance a young woman working in a bookstore that he decides to hire.

She is very meek and soft-spoken and she is also covered with some very unseemly tattoos including one on her face that could be a moth or Joshua thinks it may just be a birthmark.

The young woman named Alma has an abusive past as well as an abusive boyfriend who works as a waiter in a restaurant frequented by Seigl.

As Alma gets to know Seigl, she seems to be a good assistant but deep down, she is anti-Semitic and has a hatred for him. She was raised in rural Pennsylvania where the coal mines have been constantly burning and were owned as she was told by Jew bankers.

And then her boyfriend also despises the Jews and tells her that the Holocaust was a hoax. This novel could probably be considered a suspense story with Alma thinking of ways she can do away with Seigl.

But at its core, it is a novel based on anti-Semitism and the hatred of people based on ignorance. As it progresses, the story becomes more intense with Seigl struggling with his illness and Alma pretending to admire him and do as he wishes.

But the story twists and the ending was a real shocker! I'll be looking forward to reading more of Oates and I would definitely recommend this one.

Feb 28, Emily Goenner rated it it was ok. Another book to support my contention that Oates is uneven--some I love, some I can't read.

This one was ok, but slow and repetitive. I felt like it was a series of short stories patched together into a novel because of the way details were repeated over and over yes, I know the characters' descriptions already!

I ended up skipping about pages to learn "what happened" or I think I'd have abandoned it altogether and was disappointed with the final scene.

View 1 comment. Sep 27, Diana rated it it was ok Shelves: Jan 15, Nicole rated it it was ok Shelves: club-de-lecture One sometimes wonders, with contemporary American novelists, if they have ever left their homes and interacted with an actual human being.

Jan 03, Joelb rated it it was amazing. We tend to think of evil as dramatic or spectacular. Joyce Carol Oates knows the true shape of evil and portrays it in all its banality.

Evil seeps into our lives, twisting and warping our perceptions until the twisted seems normal. So it is for Alma Busch, the tattooed girl of the title.

Her mining town childhood is revealed in bits, but characterized as a smoking hell both physically and emotionally.

As a young woman in her early 20s, Alma drifts from one self-destructive event to the next, with not enough self-awareness or linguistic capability to understand or describe what happens to her.

Alma is easy prey for Dimitri, an amoral server who feeds her scraps, berates her, and shares her body with his friends.

She will do anything for him simply because he deigns to notice her. She adopts his virulent anti-semitism and general suspicion of others.

Through happenstance, Alma becomes the personal assistant of Joshua Siegl, a successful novelist, essayist, and public intellectual who lives alone in s large house with a substantial fortune to match.

He needs his life organized and hires Alma to do it. Alma is convinced she hates him, yet she becomes very devoted to him. Despite her devotion, Alma plots to kill him.

Siegl becomes ill, though, with a degenerative disease, sending the novel on a different trajectory. Back to evil. Mari Zombie role playing a naughty submissive girl.

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Joshua Seigl - is a reclusive 39 year old man - considered middle age? Return to Book Page. The enormous house left to him by his parents and most of his wealth came to him through no effort on his part. This one was ok, but slow and Romantic gif. Oats in my opinionGirlchatrooms her Kelsi monroe champs to think about the contrast of our historical scars and our present every day scars. I don't Femenist porn about you, but isn't that your greatest fear?

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