Home Entertainment Joyce Carol Oates captures the wobbly reality of widowhood in ‘Breathe’

Joyce Carol Oates captures the wobbly reality of widowhood in ‘Breathe’

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Joyce Carol Oates dedicated her new novel, “Breathe,” to her second husband, Charles Gross, who died in 2019. The overlaps between the novel and reality are impossible to miss. Like Oates, the lead character of “Breathe,” Michaela, is a successful writer and teacher. And she’s mourning the death of her husband, Gerard, who, like Gross, was a neuroscientist. Michaela’s anguish is intense from the start, as she observes Gerard on his deathbed: “Pleading in desperation,” she writes. “In childish hope, unreason. Begging your husband Breathe! Don’t stop breathing!”

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