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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Periodically, Oates seems compelled to write grim novels that explore humanity's darkest corners. Coming on the heels of last year's excellent What I Lived For, this depressing narrative carries macabre imagination to the extreme. It depicts the career of Quentin P., a convicted young sex offender on probation who has turned to serial killing without being caught, despite the worried scrutiny of his family and of his psychiatrist. Convincingly presented as Quentin's diary of his pursuit of the perfect "zombie" (a handsome young man to be rendered compliant and devoted through Quentin's lobotomizing him with an ice pick), the narrative incorporates crude drawings and typographic play to evoke the hermetic imagination of a psychopath; the reader examines the killer's sketches of weapons and staring eyes, and hears him say, "I lost it & screamed at him & shook him BUT I DID NOT HURT HIM I SWEAR." For all its apparent authenticity, however, this novel ventures into territory that has been explored more powerfully by, among others, Dennis Cooper (Frisk), whose chilly minimalism underscores the brutality of such crimes in a way that Oates's more calculatedly histrionic approach does not. This slim, sadistic reverie may be chilling, but it comes off as less a fully realized work than as an exercise from a writer at morbid play.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.