New York Times bestselling author of The Falls, Blonde, and We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates returns with a dark, wry, satirical tale—inspired by an unsolved American true crime mystery.
"Dysfunctional families are all alike. Ditto 'survivors.'"
So begins the unexpurgated first-person narative of nineteen-year-old Skyler Rampike, the only surviving child of an "infamous" American family. A decade ago the Rampikes were destroyed by the murder of Skyler's six-year-old ice-skating champion sister, Bliss, and the media scrutiny that followed. Part investigation into the unsolved murder; part elegy for the lost Bliss and for Skyler's own lost childhood; and part corrosively funny exposé of the pretensions of upper-middle-class American suburbia, this captivating novel explores with unexpected sympathy and subtlety the intimate lives of those who dwell in Tabloid Hell.
Likely to be Joyce Carol Oates's most controversial novel to date, as well as her most boldly satirical, this unconventional work of fiction is sure to be recognized as a classic exploration of the tragic interface between private life and the perilous life of "celebrity." In My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike, the incomparable Oates once again mines the depths of the sinister yet comic malaise at the heart of our contemporary culture.
TABLOID HELL I
EX-CON PEDOPHILE CONFESSES
"I KILLED BLISS"
35-Yr-Old Fair Hills, NJ Sicko
Paroled After 18 Months of 3 1/2-Yr Sentence
New Jersey Sentinel
February 10, 1997
"I KILLED BLISS TO SAVE HER"
CLAIMS EX-CON BABY RAPER RUSCHA
6-Yr Old Skating Prodigy Slain
While Family Sleeps Upstairs
Star Eye Weekly
February 10, 1997
SLAYER OF 6-YR-OLD BLISS RAMPIKE CONFESSES
Ex-Con Child Molester Ruscha Indicted in Fair Hills, NJ
"I Killed Bliss Because I Loved Her"
February 11, 1997
HOW VALID IS RUSCHA CONFESSION?
Fair Hills Police: "Investigation to Continue"
February 12, 1997
*Reader, repeat these headlines, accompanied by full-page tabloid photos of beautiful little Bliss Rampike and her purported slayer Gunther Ruscha, ad nauseum. And photos of Betsey Rampike and Blix Rampike. And that Rampike family photograph taken for our 1996 Christmas card. If you can stomach this crap, fine. Not for me! Though it's true that I grew up in the seething penumbra of tabloid hell, and that the very name "Rampike" was borne by me as one might bear the ignominy of an obscene figure branded into one's forehead. I was able to shut it out. Mostly.
TABLOID HELL: A NOTE
JUST TO ASSURE THE READER: NONE OF THIS WILL EVER HAPPEN TO YOU. Never will you know how "anonymous sources" including your friends will spread terrible lies about you like bats erupting from their mouths and if asked why, why lie, why hurt another person, the answer is Because I am anonymous, that's why.
Despair is a sickness of the spirit, of the self, and accordingly can take three forms: in despair not to be conscious of having a self; in despair not to will to be oneself; in despair to will to be oneself.
The Sickness unto Death
(translated by Howard V. and Edna H. Hong)
The death of a beautiful girl-child of no more than ten years of age is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.
E. A. Pym
"The Aesthetics of Composition," 1846