Joyce Carol Oates

Skaneateles appears in Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (1991) when Iris Courtney, a student at Syracuse University, visits the summer home of a professor, Dr. Byron Savage, for whom she works as a student assistant, and meets his son, Alan, in from Paris:

“She senses that Alan Savage is one of those persons who speak ambiguously because their reading of the world and of others is ambiguous and ambivalent. But his handshake is forthright and friendly, and here on the lakeside terrace of the Savage’s splendid white-shingled summer house in Skaneateles, New York, in late August of 1963, Iris Courtney’s happiness is suddenly effervescent as a bottle of sparkling water violently shaken.

“Before dinner, there’s a rowdy game of croquet played on the grassy slope above the lake, with Mrs. Savage looking on. This long lovely summer Sunday shading into dusk. Below, Skaneateles Lake mirrors the flawless sky, bluest of blues. And there’s blue in the Savages’ immaculately tended lawn: hydrangeas, Mrs. Savage’s favorite flower.

“… does she like Skaneateles… it is beautiful, isn’t it; the Savages have been coming here for thirty years. Iris agrees that the lake is beautiful. Iris says that the lake is the most beautiful lake she has ever seen.”


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