Granted privileged access to Joyce Carol Oates's letters and journals, as well as extensive interviews with family, friends, colleagues, and Oates herself, Greg Johnson examines the relationship between Oates's life and work in this fascinating exploration of a complex and gifted artist.Johnson reveals little known facts about Oates's personal and family history and debunks many of the myths that have arisen about this brilliant, enigmatic woman. From her impoverished childhood in rural upstate New York and the birth of her autistic sister, through Oates's studies at Syracuse University, where her talent was immediately recognized, and the full-breadth of her astonishingly productive career; despite bouts with depression and ill-health, Johnson's astute examination of Oates's novels, short stories, and plays demonstrates how her art has been informed by-and transformed-her life. The first complete and only authorized biography of Joyce Carol Oates. Includes discussion of We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates's highly acclaimed 1996 bestseller. Joyce Carol Oates's reputation has never been greater, and the time is right for an in-depth look at her astonishing career and fascinating personal story.