And I Listen For The Whisper Of Your Sweet Insanity

I promise that today’s blog post will be much better than yesterday’s.  Considering I basically wrote nothing yesterday, it won’t be hard to top that!  But seriously … I need to stop writing such half-assed blog posts.  Even though I’m exhausted on Fridays (or, if that’s not the case, I’m going out or otherwise busy), I should still make some sort of effort to post more than some random cute or funny pictures … Well, at least most of the time.

Anyway, moving on to the book review portion of this post … It is Saturday Book Club, after all!

This week I’ll be writing about another of Joyce Carol Oates’s novels (well, this one is actually more of a novella since it’s so short) that I read last year.  It was one of the darker books I read in 2012, which is why I’m including it in an October Saturday Book Club post.


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Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

181 pages

Zombie is written as a diary, so it’s often pretty jumbled with a lot of run-on sentences and random thoughts.  It’s interesting, though, because it’s written from the point of view of a serial killer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m very interested in that sort of of thing, so it definitely kept me engaged (though since it was so jumbled, it was difficult to get into at times).

According to Wikipedia (take that for what it’s worth), Joyce Carol Oates based her main character, Quentin, on Jeffrey Dahmer.  As I was reading the book, I could definitely see some similarities.

Quentin’s main desire (which quickly grows to an obsession) is to create a “zombie” out of a young man.  His plan is to perform a lobotomy on his victim in hopes of taking away any free will, leaving only a submissive shell to bend to his every sexual whim.  He has several botched efforts, as the men died before the zombie transformation was complete. 

As the book progresses, Quentin becomes more and more infatuated with a local teenage boy whom he refers to as “Squirrel.”  He stalks Squirrel for months, plotting how he might be able to make him his zombie.  Again, things don’t quite go as planned.

Oates doesn’t hold back when describing the sexual and physical assault Quentin inflicts on his victims (though I’ve certainly read much more disgusting and descriptive accounts).  The most disturbing thing about Quentin, though, is the fact that he pretty much always manages to get away with what he’s doing.  He’s on probation for sexual assault on a minor, but he managed to avoid any jail time … He just has to keep weekly appointments with a psychiatrist, probation officer, etc.  Beyond that, he is only suspected of foul play once (after the incident with Squirrel) … And this is only because he is a registered sex offender.  He manages to get rid of any evidence linking him to his zombie experiments before the police get a search warrant.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I would say my only real issue was that it ended rather abruptly.  I think she could’ve either shortened it, ending when the police search his home to no avail, or left readers with a cliffhanger.  But it just sort of … Ended.  I’m guessing she was trying to make a point that he could just go on living his life pretending to be “normal,” but it ended up just sort of being blah.  I can’t really think of a better way to describe it.

Despite the blah ending, Zombie is something I’d read again.  As I said, it could be difficult to get into at times due to the jumbled writing, but the fact that she wrote this way actually made it better in some ways.  I really felt as though I were reading the private thoughts of a serial killer, so it was definitely well written and effective.  I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic.  Even though it’s only loosely based on Jeffrey Dahmer’s life and therefore not a “true” look at a serial killer, it’s worth reading.

I give Zombie FOUR STARS.


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