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Faithless: Tales of Transgression

B

Although Oates’ 25th short-story collection — like many of the ones that preceded it — would have benefited from some judicious pruning by the prolific (not to say graphomaniacal) author, the finest pieces in this chilly, unnerving catalog of human misbehavior (often perpetrated or witnessed by young women) are more than good enough to counterbalance the weakest. Highlights of Faithless include the remarkable ”Secret, Silent,” in which a trip to Albany for a college interview goes terrifyingly awry, and the uncharacteristically tender mother-daughter vignette ”The Scarf.” But readers who first came to Oates through her recent Oprah’s Book Club selection We Were the Mulvaneys should turn elsewhere — preferably to last year’s monumental Marilyn Monroe bio-novel, Blonde — for her strongest work.

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