Jeffrey Trachtenberg interviews Joyce Carol Oates for The Wall Street Journal. Ecco Press is releasing an anthology of Oates short stories, spanning 40 years.
Oates: The Saturday Evening Post stories were usually light and not usually literary. They were often amusing. That kind of fiction just isn't read much any more. Situation comedies and dramas on TV take up that audience. The literary magazines continue to publish serious fiction, as does the New Yorker and Harper's. …I don't think literary short stories ever sold very well. My first collection of stories didn't sell well. And if we investigated the first book by Faulkner we'd probably see it sold poorly. There's a cumulative effect of a serious writer. Faulkner never sold well until he was a prize winner … the same happened with Herman Melville. He'd been completely forgotten — the obituary in the New York Times even got his name wrong. What I'm saying is that there has never been a large public for literary writing.