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Carthage: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 21, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 21, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062208125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062208125
  • ASIN: 0062208128
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

After her lavishly imagined, supernatural historical novel, The Accursed (2013), Oates turns in the latest of her intensely magnified studies of a family in crisis and the agony of a misfit girl. Zeno Mayfield, a former mayor of the small Adirondack town of Carthage, and his wife, Arlette, have two daughters. Juliet is as good as she is beautiful. Cressida is “difficult.” Smart, spiky, gnomish, and artistic, “inky-frizzy haired” Cressida may be autistic. Sweet Juliet gets engaged to handsome, civic-minded Brett Kincaid, who promptly enlists after 9/11. He returns severely injured, horribly scarred, and deeply traumatized. Then Cressida disappears, and grief decimates her loving family. Flashbacks to Brett’s hellish experiences in Iraq carry a powerful indictment of war crimes, while a harrowing visit to a maximum-security prison by an enigmatic investigative writer exposes the horrors of incarceration and capital punishment. Oates’ eerie, plangent, and gripping tale of a missing 19-year-old outcast and a betrayed warrior pivots on her interpretations of Cressida’s medieval namesake, who abandoned one soldier for another, and Zeno’s paradox concerning “infinity within the finite” as “a state of perpetual yearning.” HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Oates will stay in the spotlight as The Accursed comes out in paperback, and Carthage is vigorously promoted in all media formats. --Donna Seaman

Review

“Knotted, tense, digressive and brilliant.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Oates (The Accursed) returns with another novel that ratchets up the unsettling to her signature feverish pitch… Once again, Oates’s gift for exposing the frailty--and selfishness--of humans is on display. (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“After her lavishly imagined, supernatural historical novel, The Accursed (2013), Oates turns in the latest of her intensely magnified studies of a family in crisis and the agony of a misfit girl.” (Booklist)

“Joyce Carol Oates has outdone herself.” (NPR)

“Joyce Carol Oates is known for richly detailed portraits of American families asunder. CARTHAGE is a stunning contribution to her storied canon.” (Kirkus)

“…Oates shows how perilous it is to assign guilt, and how hard it is to draw the line between victim and perpetrator in a blurred moral landscape in which every crime, on the battlefield or on the home front, is a crime of conscience.” (New York Times Book Review)

“For pages on end it is a compelling mediation on belief, betrayal, and grief. Oates has written a good book. I’d recommend it. What does it matter if it is or is not a war novel. The best war novels aren’t war novels at all. They become something bigger.” (Daily Beast)

“…brilliant…amazing…. A compassionate tenderness suffuses the final sections of the book, as palpable as the cold irony with which the book begins. It’s a breathtaking effect…” (Washington Post)

“Oates, working at the top of her formidable game, handily won over more of our readers with this raw, suspenseful, ‘real and immersive’ stream-of-consciousness tale.” (Elle, Lettres 2014 Readers Prize)

“a well-told tale of family, grief and faith” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“Irresistible page-turner and heady intellectual experience… Oates continues to make her mark as one of the greatest American writers of our time.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Emphatically and artfully explores the subject of physical and emotional distances between loved ones, the various expanses between who individuals are, were, or could be, and the often barely perceptible gaps between guilt and innocence.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“…one of America’s greatest writers…” (Roanoke Times)

More 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.

Customer Reviews

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  • "Characters" 17
  • "Writing" 15
  • "Emotional" 5
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Chillingly, since childhood, Cressida had refused to smile in pictures for fear she would be smiling in her obituary. Cressida is one of the most fascinating characters I have read in recent history. I have loved her, hated her, and been indifferent through the course of this book. We meet her at 18, a quirky and exasperating girl who has pushed people away and sabotaged much of her life in confusion and anger. We are never sure who she is. Autism is a theory in the book and in the mind of the reader. Sometimes I felt I would be one who understood her, sometimes I felt as if I would have slapped her.

Cressida has disappeared, and in the course of this extraordinary novel, the author traces the minds and actions of her family and of her sister's one time fiancé and present chief suspect of homicide. The depictions of grief are so realistic and deft as to tear at the reader. The mosaic of characters is deft and beautiful.

I am tempted to deduct a star for the sometimes indulgent discussions of the damage on America in its wars and in its prisons. The case is well made however, "wars are monstrous, and made monsters of those who waged it. In time, civilians would become monstrous." Just so the prison system making keeper and prisoner both less human. Brett, the veteran and chief suspect, is depicted in excruciating revelation. Sometimes his inner tumult does drag a bit too long, but masterful nonetheless.

Joyce Carol Oates is often difficult to read. Emotions are raw, the landscape is bleak. All that said, her books are meticulously crafted, and this one is often lyrical. I invite you to encounter Cressida as a meeting well made.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Julia McMichael on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
“Always I dreaded the tabloid media most of all, heartless and pitiless and shrewd with the instincts of predator birds that will gather above they prey hovering in the air beating great black-feathered wings impatient to feed.”

Why do I continue to resist reading Joyce Carol Oates when she is such a great writer? True, her themes are gothic and grotesque, but her power of writing transcends such genre typecasting. //Carthage// is one of her finest – if not the finest – of her many (forty) novels. It is a powerful anti-war, anti-media and anti-love story. It is finely woven and unexpected; the suspense she weaves throughout the story is palpable. The reader will also care about all the characters; even her anti-hero is redeemed.||The story echoes the book, Lovely Bones; a young girl is missing. A wounded war veteran was last seen in her company and the plot does thicken.||Juliet Mayfield is engaged to the hometown hero. He is such a hero that he volunteers for the army and descends into the pit of hell. He returns much changed and maimed, but Juliet’s love does not falter. When her sister, Cressida disappears, Juliet and her family fear the worst. Even more horrible, Cressida was last seen with Juliet’s war damaged fiancée. This is an amazing book by a great writing talent. Like Stephen King and great novelists, there seems to be a million stories contained in the mind of Joyce Carol Oates. We are lucky enough to be the recipient of her printed prose.Oates seems to breathe stories into such substance that the reader enters her dreamlike universe and refuses to part with it until page 482. A great gift for any literature lover.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S. Goldstein on January 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
JCO is one of those authors whose new books I read just because she wrote them. I don't need to know anything about them, because I know that they won't dissapoint. However, I also know that for the time that I am reading them, I will be in a little more of an anxious and foul mood. Carthage is no exception. The writing is great as usual (if not a bit frantic and repetitive at times), and the story is fascinating. It brings up a genuine moral conundrum. Even though there are few (if any) likable characters, and even though the motivation of the main character was puzzling, I still enjoyed this book. Now that I'm done with it though, I'm happy to come out of my "JCO funk".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marcia on February 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been reading Oates' books since the 1970s. I realize that she has many different styles of writing. This type I did not care for.
There was too much proselytizing about war and religion for my taste. I rarely skip pages in a book, but in this case I did.
I also felt no empathy for Cressida or Juliet. The mother did not move me either. Zeno seemed most believable to me and the most sympathetic character. Brett seemed to be the pawn driving the plot.
I would not recommend this to a friend.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By the GreatReads! TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates is a mystery thriller set in upstate NY which narrates the heartrending tale of a family that has been shattered almost beyond redemption by a single devastating incident. It tells the story of the well-to-do Mayfield family headed by Zeno who has two daughters, Juliet Mayfield and Cressida Mayfield. Of the two, Julie is older and prettier than her sibling Cressida. She is engaged to Brett, a young man who is serving in Iraq. But when Brett returns from Iraq, he is no longer his usual self. He is very sick, mentally and physically.

However, Juliet accepts the difficult situation in which she finds herself and readily offers to help him go through the challenging and rigorous rehabilitation Brett has to go through. Things eventually fall apart and the engagement of Juliet and Brett is broken. Things go from bad to worse when Cressida goes missing after being driven home from a bar by Brett.

Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates is a riveting story about how decisions can deeply impact the collective life of a family and the community. If you love suspense, you will love this story which has shocking ending.
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