Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CBR5 #10: Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

(So clearly I am not going to manage a double Cannonball this year. Or a full Cannonball. Or even a half Cannonball. But BY GOD I will at least complete the quarter, so at least I have not totally failed.)

Joyce Carol Oates's tale of Quentin P___ is unpleasant. And I know it's supposed to be that way--after all it's a dip into the mind of a serial killer--but it's more than that. He is the antagonist of his own story, making the reader into the protagonist. You spend your time reading his diary, and begin to get the creepy feeling that this is something you should never have seen. Quentin is not likable. You don't root for him as you do with Dexter or Hannibal Lector or even Patrick Bateman. Quentin is all the violence but none of the charm. I found myself rooting AGAINST him, rather than for him, and spent most of my time completely revolted. I suppose that's an indication that Oates did her job in making this character so real that he overwhelms the reader, but success doesn't necessarily lead to enjoyment, and this book left me with the strong desire to take a hot shower and never open it again.

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