Joyce Carol Oates has an ax to grind in this set of stories, but it may be an ax worth grinding. The stories are vivid and well-imagined, and I wish some of my high school students who are girls somehow find this book and read it, because it is a valuable study in conflicts they probably feel. The collection deals mostly with early relationships between guys and girls and the potentially terrifying outcomes of those relationships, meaning sexual violence or date rape.
Taken together, the stories seem to rule out the possibility of the "good guy." Guys reading the stories are likely to be depressed or angry because guys are not presented in a good light, generally speaking.
Still, it's hard to argue that guys don't deserve this kind of treatment. Date rape is an ugly reality, and it's brave in some ways for Oates to present a collection of stories that centers around that reality.
It would be nice, though, if at least one of the stories ended well. I'm not sure if that's the case -- I didn't read through the entire collection.