Review: Miao Dao (Dark Corners Collection) by Joyce Carol Oates

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Amazon Original Stories | 2018

Opening Hook: Boobs are hilarious.

Main Character: Ride or Die for cats.

Plot Twisty-ness: Unpredictably weird.


I don’t know what the fuck this is, but it’s weird and awkward and I do not like Oates’ writing style at all.

Usually, I’m pretty chill about writing styles and can adapt to mostly everything, but Oates writes like she wishes everything was poetry and I’m sorry, but some shit just isn’t poetic. Like a stepdad sexually harassing his 14-year-old stepdaughter and the lasting effects that can have on a person.

I was really hoping this short story was going to be some Carrie kind of shit, but with killer cats. Unfortunately, it’s following the same footsteps as The Tangled Woods, where the horrors are the real-life issues we face in a messed up society, instead of escapist horror.

I think I’m finding that I’m not the kind of person who likes “reality horror.” I much prefer monsters and crazed slasher killers over sexual abuse and institutionalized racism. I read as an escape, not to be reminded about how much humans fucking suck.

star trek GIF

My goal is to get through the full Dark Corners Collection for the Halloween season, and that’s really the only reason I persisted in reading this long-ass short story.

The pacing of the plot feels disproportionate, taking up a lot of time over the 66-pages to build up Mia, her struggles at school since hitting puberty, her struggles at home with her parents’ divorce, her father’s new family and her mother’s new marriage with a creepy “Jared from Subway” type.

I was expecting a horror story of revenge with killer cats and their queen teen, but what I got instead was a girl obsessed with feral cats, acting as her only escape from being constantly sexualized when she just wants to grow up in peace.

I mean, I get it. It sucks. Been there and still have issues from it, but it just didn’t work for me in this context. Or under the umbrella of what I thought this collection of stories was supposed to be.

I do have to say that the reviews by men complaining about “misandry” are fucking hilarious. Stop being so victimized by commentary not directed at you if you’re not doing anything wrong, and open your goddamn eyes to the shit women deal with. If you would fix your own gender’s idea of what is okay to perpetrate on women we’d stop complaining and you could stop crying about men being so hated.

Seriously, you’re exhausting with all your whining and “not all men” snowflake bullshit.

Season 5 Shut Up GIF by Friends

Anyway, I understand the social commentary that Oates created with this story, but it’s not what I wanted to read and I didn’t enjoy the way it was delivered.

I mean, if you can fuck up a story that’s teased to be about ride-or-die cats, you’ve done something very wrong. That’s a winning concept all the way meow-ound.

…I’ll show myself out.


A girl comes of age with a vengeance—and help from a friend—in a tale of unnerving suspense from National Book Award winner and literary master Joyce Carol Oates.

Bad things have been happening since Mia began to mature. Her dad left. Boys at school can’t keep their hands to themselves. A lecherous stepfather has moved in. Her only refuge is an abandoned lot on her suburban cul-de-sac, crawling with feral felines—one of which follows Mia home. Ghostly white and affectionate, she is Mia’s new companion and—as Mia’s tormenters will soon discover—her fierce protector.

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