Joyce Carol Oates
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Finally returned to print in a beautiful new trade paperback edition, American Appetites is classic Joyce Carol Oates—a suspenseful thriller in which the happy facade of an affluent suburban couple crumbles under the weight of tragedy and scandal.
For twenty-six years, Ian McCullough, a demographics researcher at a social science think tank, has been happily married to Glynnis, a successful cookbook writer and a brilliant hostess.
When a drunken argument about a suspected infidelity turns physical, Ian accidentally pushes Glynnis through a plate glass window—or did she fall? Now, Glynnis is dead, Ian is charged with murder, and their American dream is shattered. And soon, in a courtroom where guilt and responsibility become two very separate issues, Ian will stand trial, fighting for his life.
A sophisticated, witty, and chilling novel from the incomparable Joyce Carol Oates, American Appetites explores our insatiable hunger for power, love, and success, and how comfortable, privileged lives—and the course of fate—can be dramatically transformed in an instant.
said, “My ducklings, bless their hearts, I’ll have until I paddle away.” So they laughed, as if with relief, that the air (perhaps) had been cleared; except for Roberta, who, smiling, stared into the tall frosted glass in her hand, a plain fizzing drink of some kind, very likely club soda, into which Denis had dropped a neat crescent moon of lime. “IF YOU’VE BEEN avoiding me, I mean being alone with me,” Ian said, “I quite understand. I don’t, you know, want to embarrass you. I don’t . . .” He
sorry; simply could not express in words how sorry, et cetera; then asking, “Oh, Ian, is it terrible, those people, all those crowds of people, those strangers, that you can’t control, staring at you, and thinking about you, and judging you?” and he’d realized she was asking not of Ian McCullough’s ordeal but of her own, the ordeal shortly to be hers. He said, “Yes. It is terrible.” “AND WERE YOU ‘involved’ with Dr. McCullough during this period of time?” “If you mean romantically involved—”
is home. Good. But most of the time he was working, of course. At his desk or in the computer room or in the Institute library, a handsome vaulted plushly carpeted space in which the individual was dwarfed, not in size (for the highly specialized library was not large as libraries go) but in significance: amid the neatly arranged stacks of books, books to the floor and books to the ceiling; amid the hieratic portraits of great men, Hobbes, Comte, Bentham, Mill, Marx, Engels, Spencer, Durkheim,
trying, now, to make a joke of it, “or any of my birthdays. That, surely, you understand?” “But I love you,” Glynnis said, stubbornly, as if that were a refutation. So, repentant, Ian tried to temper what he’d said, for he had not meant it, exactly; but Glynnis was wounded, and struck out in bewilderment and rage; and within minutes, again, they were speaking angrily, in clumsy raised voices. And again Ian left the room, pain beginning between his eyes and his heart beating suffocatingly hard;
tell you there is nothing between Sigrid Hunt and me; there has been nothing; I scarcely know her—really. I think we’d better save this for another time.” “But did you really think there would be no consequences?” “There are no consequences.” “Except that, by accident, though possibly it wasn’t entirely an accident, I found the check,” Glynnis said. “One thousand dollars. Payable to Sigrid Hunt. Signed, Ian McCullough.” She too laughed, with a strange joyous violence. “In Ian McCullough’s