Alice’s American Cousin: Joyce Carol Oates

See if you can’t dig up a copy of the August 2011 Princeton Magazine. There’s a good  cover feature by Stuart Mitchner called “Alice’s American Cousin,” about author Joyce Carol Oates and her lifelong love of Alice.

"Wonderland," By Dallas Piotrowski. Giclée Print, 2004.

Once upon a time an eight-year-old girl living in upstate New York received a birthday present that changed her life. The girl’s name was Joyce and the gift from her paternal grandmother was the 1946 Junior Library edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, illustrated by John Tenniel. It was a match made in literary heaven, from the companionable sight-rhyme of Joyce and Alice to Alice’s idea that there “ought to be a book written about me….And when I grow up I’ll write one,“ a goal her American cousin Joyce shared and fulfilled many times over when she grew up.

In her essay, “First Loves from ‘Jabberwocky’ to ‘After Apple Picking,’” reprinted in The Faith of a Writer (2003), Joyce Carol Oates calls her Grandmother Woodside’s gift “the great treasure of my childhood and the most profound literary influence of my life.” It was “love at first sight,” not only with Alice (“with whom I identified unquestionably”) but with “the phenomenon of Book.” Six years later, Grandmother Woodside gave Joyce her first typewriter, a Remington portable.

On view in the grown-up author’s Princeton study is her artist friend [and LCSNA member!] Dallas Piotrowski’s colorful reworking of the Tenniel sketch showing Alice “opening out like the largest telescope there ever was,” having just eaten the Eat Me cake. The altered Alice has a pencil in one hand and a book in the other and a face not unlike that of the study’s inhabitant. Joyce’s title for the picture of herself as Alice is “Curiouser and Curiouser,” which is what Alice is saying as the cake has its way with her. [...]

1 comment to Alice’s American Cousin: Joyce Carol Oates

  • I am looking for Dallas Piotrowski. Dallas, I am a painter, living in Marlton. I have a piece next to some of your work at Perkins. Your work is spectacular, and “The Warrior” should have been Best in Show. I am new to Watercolor, and have been taking classes with Alex Alampi in Salem county. Do you ever hold workshops? I tried to email you through earthlink, but it bounced back. Would love to see more of your work!

    Sincerely, Cindy Beauvais