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Joyce Carol Oates is an unparalleled investigator of human personality. In these eight stories, she deftly tests the bonds between damaged individuals-brother and sister. teacher and student, two lonesome strangers on a subway-in the beautiful, bracing prose that has become her signature. In the title story, a white, aspiring professor in Detroit tries to shake a black, male shadow during the summer of the city's 1967 race riots. In "The Rescuer,"...