Zombie from author Joyce Carol Oates is the latest novel to be checked off my to be read list. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you likely already know that I’m a huge Joyce Carol Oates fan and one of my personal goals is to read everything she’s ever written.
Zombie is one that I had heard of and have owned for quite some time, but never quite made it around to picking it up until recently. I’m kicking myself for not reading this one sooner!
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Have you read Zombie yet? Come on in and let me tell you about it!
Zombie is a classic novel of dark obsession from the extraordinary Joyce Carol Oates. A brilliant, unflinching journey into the mind of a serial killer, Zombie views the world through the eyes of Quentin P., newly paroled sex offender, as he chillingly evolves from rapist to mass murderer.
Meet Quentin P., the most believably terrifying sexual psychopath and killer ever brought to life in fiction. The author deftly puts you inside the mind of a serial killer–succeeding not in writing about madness, but in writing with the logic of madness.
Joyce Carol Oates—the prolific author of so many extraordinary bestsellers, including The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Blonde, and The Falls—demonstrates why she ranks among America’s most respected and accomplished literary artists with this provocative, breathtaking, and disturbing masterwork.
Thoughts on Zombie
“I am not doing well, I think. Or maybe just O.K. I know they are writing reports. But I am not allowed to see. If one of these was a woman I would do better, I feel. They believe you, they are not always watching you.”Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates
Zombie is a novel, but a relatively short one at just under two hundred pages. One hundred ninety two, to be exact. It reminds me of her short story Black Water. In the sense that it is told in a single stream of thought. The writing style is interesting as it comes from our main character’s journals.
So it isn’t necessarily grammatically correct or completely coherent at times. But the mind of a madman isn’t grammatically correct or coherent all the time anyway. So keep that in mind when you start reading Zombie.
I’ve read from others that Zombie is loosely based on the serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. Although I haven’t been able to verify that, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me, as Joyce Carol Oates based Blonde off of part of Marilyn Monroe’s life, and Black Water on Ted Kennedy and the woman he left to drown in a car accident.
Zombie is dark. If you’re looking for sunshine and rainbows, you need to pick a different novel to read. This is the kind of thing that sticks with you because it is such a heavy and dark subject matter.
Final Thoughts on Zombie
“Afterward Dad shook my hand so hard it hurt and did embrace me and there were tears in his eyes behind his glasses like his eyes were loose in their sockets like jelly about to slip out. Handed me the keys to his car so I could drive the family home.”Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Because the writing is good. But the topic is beyond disturbing. I felt the same way about If You Tell. I can’t stand it, but I’ll certainly never forget it.
Despite being a relatively short novel, it took me a lot longer than normal to read, just because it was such a heavy subject to read. I honestly thought I would sit down and read it in just a couple of hours, enjoy it, and move on to my next read. Yeah, not so much. Be prepared if that happens to you as well.
Have you read Zombie or any other writing from author Joyce Carol Oates? Are you a fan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
About the Author
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde.
Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates 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.
If you are interested in buying the paperback version of Zombie, click here.
For the hardcover version, click here.
Click here for the Kindle version.
Click here for my favorite Kindle I currently own.
More From Joyce Carol Oates
Did you enjoy my review of Zombie? Need another great Joyce Carol Oates novel to read? Here are my favorites!
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