Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “The Hand Puppet”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Hand Puppet” by Joyce Carol Oates

Card picked: Eight of Clubs

From: David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible

Comments: I wasn’t going to claim Deal Me In stories for R.I.P. XI because they’re random picks from anthologies that aren’t necessarily going to guarantee the required “peril.” The last two weeks though? Tales of the Impossible has taken a dark turn. I’m not complaining.

How strangeness enters our lives.

Lorraine Lake’s life suddenly feels strange. Her daughter Tippi, an unpopular eleven-year-old, has secretly built a gray, malformed puppet and developed a coarse voice and personality to go with it. Lorraine had hoped Tippi would grow out of ventriloquism, but doesn’t feel like she should discourage her daughter’s interest, no matter how uncomfortable it makes Lorraine. Lorraine is keeping a secret of her own–an appointment with a gynecologist, a follow-up concerning a tumor in her uterus. She avoids telling anyone for fear of distressing anyone with something that might turn out to be nothing. During the pelvic examination, Lorraine no longer feels like herself. “Someone makes me speak, too–”

In many ways, this is a story about aging and the passage of time. At some point, we all look at our lives and think, “How the hell did I get HERE?” We all make concessions to what’s expected of us. Near the end of the story, after she is told that she will have to have a hysterectomy, Lorraine thinks back about the young athletic woman she used to be and hears in her head the voice of Tippi’s puppet, a harbinger of mortality if ever there was one.

About the Author: Joyce Carol Oates is one of those writers that has totally tricked the literary establishment into acknowledging “genre” stories. She is the author I want to point out to every English professor who is grumpy and disapproving of speculative fiction proclivities. National Book Award? She’s got one. Norman Mailer Prize? She’s got that too. And, oh yeah, a couple Bram Stoker Awards and a World Fantasy Award. (Among over a dozen other awards…)

5 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 39 ~ “The Hand Puppet”

  1. Dale

    Ah, Joyce Carol Oates. Another author I need to read more of. A number of years ago, I read her story “The Girl With the Blackened Eye” and found the subject matter so disturbing that I haven’t read anything since. And for the most part, “disturbing” usually doesn’t keep me from reading or liking something. And I would also say that “disturbing” by no means equates to bad writing. In fact, sometimes it might equate to great writing. All that to say: I think I need to give her another chance.

  2. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 39 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

  3. Jay

    Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorites and her stories have rarely disappointed me. The line you quote that “someone makes me speak too” feels chilling and very Oates-ian. This one sounds like a winner. 🙂


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