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Extended Audio Sample What I Lived For Audiobook, by Joyce Carol Oates Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (477 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joyce Carol Oates Narrator: Jay O. Sanders Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2008 ISBN: 9781598877205
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Jerome “Corky” Corchoran is a well-liked, well-connected, but morally bankrupt real estate developer who one day tragically discovers that he can no longer finesse his way through life with his “Irish charm.”

At the age of 43, Corky has paved his road to success with a string of bad deals, bad debts, a bad marriage, and a very bad drinking problem. When a young acquaintance commits suicide, Corky’s world begins to unravel in scandal. His friends, family, and political cronies all drop him, and his checkered past comes back to haunt him.

With his life in shambles, Corky finally performs one noble, selfless deed. But rather than allow himself to be redeemed, Corky continues to wheel-and-deal his way out of this world and into the next.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Dazzling, dark, disturbing, and totally engrossing…Oates has created a wonderfully complex hero.”

    Boston Sunday Herald

  • “Corky Corcoran is one of the most astonishing fictional creations in memory…Oates has crawled so deeply and so convincingly into him that we never once get the sense that there’s anything she doesn’t know about ‘manhood’ about men’s deepest, most closely guarded secrets.”

    Washington Post

  • “An astonishing portrait of a male character…Joyce Carol Oates has once again revealed the innermost secrets of the human heart.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Joyce Carol Oates takes a secure place beside John Updike as a chronicler of our times.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “Breathtaking scope and insight…Grabs hold like an anxiety dream that won’t let go.”

    Atlanta Journal

  • “A big, brawling, profane book…Oates does a phenomenal job of creating character and place.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Gripping in its sure control of place, character, and verisimilitude…A vivid portrait of a man—and a culture—under stress.”

    Hartford Courant

  • A 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
  • A 1995 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia Sellers | 1/19/2014

    " A hypertoxic tail of Irish human drags..are there men who survive like this? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mush | 1/16/2014

    " What I Lived for by Joyce Carol Oates (1994) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jannette Tacka | 1/6/2014

    " Insightful character development of a character I didn't really care for...JCO is truly skilled. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ak | 12/27/2013

    " admire the effort to speak from inside a man's mind - parts are very convincing - but the seams show a bit. still, a disappointing JCO book is better than the best of most, so. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gail | 12/22/2013

    " Up to this point I've loved everything I have read by this author (Joyce Carol Oates). Not so much this one! To tell the truth, I'm not completely certain how the book ended. Won't say anything more as not to spoil it for a potential reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexis | 11/27/2013

    " Though I didn't love this book, I was so impressed by the character development. If I meant the main character, he's the kind of guy I'd hate. But being privy to his intentions, one can't help but sympathize and even like him. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Christina | 9/21/2013

    " Abandoned JCO and I never abandon her, just didn't like the main character and wasn't interested in the story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Syd | 8/13/2013

    " 608 pages is far too long to be stuck in Corky Corcoran's head. Enough said. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorraine | 8/3/2013

    " A haunting story, but fantastically written. It was my first Joyce Carol Oates book, so I'm not sure if there are better out there, but I love her character development. Gave me the chills. Would love to discuss it with anyone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra Alonzo | 1/21/2013

    " This is an oldie (1994) and a fabulous read. Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mssuzyq623 | 11/26/2012

    " Long. OK. Don't like part about mother kissing him--vague, but telling myself it was not hiniting at incest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Reed | 7/25/2012

    " oh,oates always starts out well for me but she always drops me down intto such a deep well-why do i do this to myself? well written but as usual,unbearably dark and full of sorrow. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angelica | 2/20/2012

    " DNF. Too wordy, rambling, and the main character is completely insufferable. Ugh. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denny Fisher | 9/6/2011

    " I wanted to hate this book. So many times I wanted to stop reading it, Corky drove me completely mad all the way to the very end. But, now that I've finished reading it, I find myself missing the testosterone driven roller coaster ride... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 7/20/2011

    " Thought I'd like it from the jacket, but I was just not impressed in any way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 6/30/2011

    " I could not put this down. Oddly, I cannot remember in what part of my life I was reading this book--but I didn't stip until I finished. Now that I think about it, I would like to read a serious review of it to see if the critics thought she wrote this male lead character well--I do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane Rupp | 6/1/2011

    " It was Joyce Carol Oates. It wandered, it rambled, it made me want to shake her and say get on with it! what's the point here?! It made me think . . . about people and what we live for...... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 4/7/2011

    " One of the most complex and interesting books I've ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 e b | 3/3/2011

    " Sidney Sheldon for the literary set. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Max McCann | 2/19/2011

    " Holy crap. How good is this book? I can't believe a lady-author got inside the male psyche so accurately. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clifford | 1/24/2011

    " Fantastic...this story has been placed with my all favorites. Joyce has created a character (Corky) that I relate too. A huge book that the story takes place in four days over a Memorial Holiday weekend. Is he not an alcoholic? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheryl | 1/19/2011

    " One of Oates best contemporary novels. A powerful snapshot of a man's life in an aging city in upstate NY in the 1990's. Brutal... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 1/6/2011

    " High intensity novel taking place over a Memorial Day weekend. Main character is a high-power real estate broker whose life is circling the drain.

    Oates is amazing for the sheer number of her books, and that they are consistently of high quality is all the more amazing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Syd | 1/3/2011

    " 608 pages is far too long to be stuck in Corky Corcoran's head. Enough said. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alexis | 9/10/2010

    " Though I didn't love this book, I was so impressed by the character development. If I meant the main character, he's the kind of guy I'd hate. But being privy to his intentions, one can't help but sympathize and even like him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 e | 9/9/2010

    " Sidney Sheldon for the literary set. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 3/3/2010

    " This is an oldie (1994) and a fabulous read. Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favorite authors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jannette | 10/6/2009

    " Insightful character development of a character I didn't really care for...JCO is truly skilled. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clifford | 10/5/2009

    " Fantastic...this story has been placed with my all favorites. Joyce has created a character (Corky) that I relate too. A huge book that the story takes place in four days over a Memorial Holiday weekend. Is he not an alcoholic? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mush | 9/15/2009

    " What I Lived for by Joyce Carol Oates (1994) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 3/4/2009

    " oh,oates always starts out well for me but she always drops me down intto such a deep well-why do i do this to myself? well written but as usual,unbearably dark and full of sorrow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 1/19/2009

    " One of the most complex and interesting books I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/2/2008

    " I could not put this down. Oddly, I cannot remember in what part of my life I was reading this book--but I didn't stip until I finished. Now that I think about it, I would like to read a serious review of it to see if the critics thought she wrote this male lead character well--I do. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorraine | 4/13/2008

    " A haunting story, but fantastically written. It was my first Joyce Carol Oates book, so I'm not sure if there are better out there, but I love her character development. Gave me the chills. Would love to discuss it with anyone. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 4/2/2008

    " Thought I'd like it from the jacket, but I was just not impressed in any way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gail | 3/23/2008

    " Up to this point I've loved everything I have read by this author (Joyce Carol Oates). Not so much this one! To tell the truth, I'm not completely certain how the book ended. Won't say anything more as not to spoil it for a potential reader. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denny | 3/20/2008

    " I wanted to hate this book. So many times I wanted to stop reading it, Corky drove me completely mad all the way to the very end. But, now that I've finished reading it, I find myself missing the testosterone driven roller coaster ride... "

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About the Author
Author Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Times bestsellers The Falls, which won the 2005 Prix Femina Etranger, and The Gravedigger’s Daughter. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she received the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2006 she received the Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award.

About the Narrator

Jay O. Sanders began his acting career off-Broadway in Shakespearean roles then went on to appear in numerous films and television series, including Revolutionary Road, The Day after Tomorrow, and Kiss the Girls, based on the novel by James Patterson. He has narrated more than fifty audio books over the years, including the bestselling My Losing Season by Pat Conroy and Dean Koontz’s Dragon Tears and Mr. Murder.