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Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
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Zombie (1995)

by Joyce Carol Oates (Author)

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7143413,199 (3.51)100
  1. 10
    People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess (ShelfMonkey)
  2. 00
    The Seven Days of Peter Crumb: A Novel (P.S.) by Jonny Glynn (crazybatcow)
    crazybatcow: Similar content. Though, believe it or not, Q_P_ in Zombie is a more functional psychopath than Peter Crumb.
  3. 00
    The Collector by John Fowles (SomeGuyInVirginia)
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English (32)  German (1)  French (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This book makes me want to read everything Joyce Carol Oates has ever written. The style of writing fits so well with the story and main character, it was scary. Let's just say that I wouldn't want to meet Quintin but what if I have? What if it's someone I know? Oates made this character so believable it sent chills down my spine. Her writing is poetic and realistic at the same time. I can't wait to read more of her writing and will be running back to the library to pick up whatever I can find. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Joyce Carol Oates's Zombie is the first person journal narrative, complete with crude Magic Marker drawings, of a registered sex offender turned serial killer named Quentin P____ (one of whose aliases is Todd Cuttler), who prowls the lower peninsula of Michigan (primarily the fictional university town of Mount Vernon, near Lake Michigan, although sometimes he ventures as far afield as Lansing, Detroit, and Ann Arbor) in search of "love" -- really, sex slaves -- in the persons of various, largely non-white, teenaged boys and young men; Quentin P___'s journal documents, in more or less linear fashion, his progression from an inept "kiddie fiddler" to an impulsive, obsessive serial killer in his late thirties as he attempts to create a "ZOMBIE": a lobotomized sex slave (to this end, he visits the dentist at his mother's urging, and steals one of the dental picks there since he sees it as an ideal tool to perform a transorbital lobotomy on his victims) who will obey his every command:

"A true ZOMBIE would be mine forever. He would obey every command & whim. Saying 'Yes, Master' & 'No, Master.' He would kneel before me lifting his eyes to me saying, 'I love you, Master. There is no one but you, Master.

"& so it would come to pass, & so it would be. For a true ZOMBIE could not say a thing that was not, only a thing that was. His eyes would be open & clear but there would be nothing inside them seeing. & nothing behind them thinking. Nothing passing judgment.

......

"A ZOMBIE would pass no judgment. A ZOMBIE would say, 'God bless you, Master.' He would say, 'You are good, Master. You are kind & merciful.' He would say, 'Fuck me in the ass, Master, until I bleed blue guts.' He would beg for his food & he would beg for oxygen to breathe. He would beg to use the toilet not to soil his clothes. He would be respectful at all times. He would never laugh or smirk or wrinkle his nose in disgust. He would lick with his tongue as bidden. He would suck with his mouth as bidden. He would spread the cheeks of his ass as bidden. He would cuddle like a teddy bear as bidden. He would rest his head on my shoulder like a baby. Or I would rest my head on his shoulder like a baby. We would eat pizza slices from each other's fingers. We would lie beneath the covers in my bed in the CARETAKER's room listening to the March wind & the bells of the Music College tower chiming & WE WOULD COUNT THE CHIMES UNTIL WE FELL ASLEEP AT EXACTLY THE SAME MOMENT."

-- Chapter 15


The model for Quentin P___ is Jeffrey Dahmer; while Zombie is a short novel and a quick read, it's not without intellectual interest, particularly in Quentin's references to current theories in physics (such as dark matter), and in passages that recall the work of the so-called godfather of the Beats, William S. Burroughs:

"BIG GUY lived maybe fifteen hours I think dying as I was fucking him in the ass (not in the tub, in my bed) to discipline him as a ZOMBIE & I only comprehended he was dead when during the night waking needing to take a piss I felt how cold he was, arms & legs where I'd slung them over me & his head on my shoulder to cuddle but BIG GUY was stiffening in rigor mortis so I panicked thinking I would be locked in his embrace!"

-- Chapter 19


Come to that, the whole of Zombie is more than a little reminiscent of a distillation of much of Burroughs's work, given its obsessive, drug-and-alcohol-addled, deeply misogynistic protagonist with a narrow band of autodidactic learning, a tenuous grasp of reality, a bottomless well of rage alternating with inanition, and a perverted sex drive wholly wedded to a taste for violence and domination; add some psychic, giant, transdimensional centipedes, gunslinging boy-whores from the Old West or New York City's Lower East Side c. 1920, orgone projectors, dubious and absurd covert organizations, and an incompetent, junkie surgeon (paging Doc Benway...), and you'd have a full-blown Burroughs pastiche.

Zombie does have a fair share of acidulous, mordant humor, but it is by definition not to everyone's taste. Gore crows seeking another Michael Slade or Dexter or Hannibal Lecter are likely to be disappointed in Zombie, finding it too highfalutin and not nearly bloody enough (and, possibly, too "gay"); readers looking for more obvious literary merit are also likely feel let down by Zombie, finding it too lowbrow and too pulpy for serious consideration.

While I respect Ms. Oates's career and mostly admire her as a critic (although I think she is misguided in her evaluation of James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce), from what little I've read of her fiction thus far, I find that I admire her more than like her; her fiction seems almost wholly intellectually-driven, like Graham Greene's (he of the machine-tooled prose): it lacks that ineffable spark of life that characterizes my favorite works. In the end, Ms. Oates's fictional creations don't quite convince; they are cleverly crafted constructs, puzzled out at an emotional distance that prevents them from inspiring in their readers that frisson of truly great works.

Keeping these caveats in mind, Zombie is by no means a waste of time; I suspect that it is not truly representative of Ms. Oates's fiction, but it is an interesting oddity for all of that. ( )
  uvula_fr_b4 | Apr 5, 2014 |
Zombie. Joyce Carol Oates. 1995. The only other book I have read by Oates is Grave Diggers Daughter, which I thought was excellent; so this one was quite a shock to me. I don’t know anything about Oates, and I wonder what she was thinking as she wrote this spooky, sick novel. The story is told in first person by Quentin P, a young sex offender. We hear his version of is life as he evolves from a sex offender into a serial murderer. Chilling. Not for the faint-hearted. ( )
  judithrs | Dec 26, 2013 |
Very disturbing first person narrative about a drug-addicted psychopath-zombie's experiments in the creation of his own personal zombie in a deranged search for unconditional love. I would not recommend this work, although it is superbly written, for everyone. The subject matter is not only disturbing but creepy and Joyce Carol Oates' ability to bring reality to the serial killer's thought process is scary! I am going to have to read something much lighter to clear away some of the darkness of this novel. ( )
  musecure | Dec 12, 2013 |
Crazy! Like so many who feel entitled to any & everything they want, see & covet; Q.P. is a stark depiction of how some people (without empathy) justify their deeds & blame others for the outcome. I was frightened, knowing I could go missing-my killer never found…forgotten* ( )
  Madamxtra | Jul 13, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oates, Joyce CarolAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harris, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My name is Q__ P__ & I am thirty-one years old, three months.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452275008, Paperback)

A hero who gets into the mind of a serial killer is a fixture of television crime shows, but such stories are usually disappointing, because the viewer knows it's just a gimmick. Not so with this unusual little novel, which The New York Times called a "note-perfect, horror-comic ventriloquization of a half-bright, infantile serial killer." Joyce Carol Oates has so convincingly written through the voice of a killer, you will feel nervous while reading at how familiar, how human, he is. Part of how she achieves the effect is through sparing use of bizarre capitalization (e.g., "MOON" and "FRAGMENT") and crude drawings done with a felt-tip pen. But the language is what makes it come alive, as in such weird statements as "My whole body is a numb tongue." This book was winner of the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:10 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Oates's ostensible diary of the paroled sex offender Quentin P. provides a psychologically astute portrait of the way cold calculation and dark obsession combine in a serial killer to make him both horrifyingly successful and maddeningly elusive.

» see all 3 descriptions

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