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You Must Remember This


You Must Remember This

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is the best book that Joyce Carol Oates has ever written. This story of an American family in the 1950s and the incestuous love affair that threatens to change their lives forever is expertly dramatized. It's an uncompromising perspective on both the country and the state of the American family during this decade.

Enid Maria forms an obsessive relationship with her uncle Felix, a 30-year-old professional boxer. Their relationship eventually affects the lives of her Eisenhower-loving parents and the political aspirations of her brother, Warren.

Although the story is set in an era when most people valued conservative ideas and conformity, Enid Maria's family repeatedly breaks convention to pursue sexual and personal fulfillment. The reality of what happens to these characters is shocking and remarkable, throwing the reader for a loop. The unbearable eroticism of the scenes between Felix and Enid are the intelligentsia's equivalent of epic movie desire. These two generate a huge amount of heat but it is the overwhelming fear of nuclear war that causes the foundation of their world to rock from moment one. The affair isn't the thing that destroys the complacency of their lives; the world around all of these characters demands that they begin to seek a greater truth for themselves, as hard as they try to work around it.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is a powerful book. I think it would make a great movie. Not a sweat-and-nudity spectacular but perhaps the definitive look at how true love is the most forbidden, because its very existence threatens to unravel every life that comes into contact with it. I dare a reader not to feel changed after this book.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 24, 2011

You Must Remember This
by Joyce Carol Oates

  • Publication Date: November 1, 1998
  • Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452280192
  • ISBN-13: 9780452280199