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Zombie Hardcover – October 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525940456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525940456
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Customer Reviews

They are all very well written.
Trudy Eisner
Also, as other readers have stated, the book ends very abruptly, leaving the reader (or me, at least) feeling a bit cheated.
Liz H. Catt
Just finished this book and still trying to figure it out.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 158 people found the following review helpful By Jenn Emerson on October 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I knew I was a fan of Joyce Carol Oates after being forced to read her by an English prof in college. She has a perspective and a skill with prose that really impressed my impressionable bachelor's degree mind. I'll grant, however, I am not a big reader and don't keep up with Oates' complete catalog. It was about a month ago when I ran across this title and thought, "Wow, Joyce Carol Oates is doing her take on the latest zombie phenomenon? I need to check this out." Dumb a**. Of course, she's not writing about zombie zombies. But that's kinda what I thought when I started reading it. I didn't know anything about it, much less that this book was originally published more than a decade ago.

I think coming into it virtually blind made the book a more intense experience for me vs. someone who has read the reviews, synopsis and so on. (Kinda like how I enjoyed "The Blair Witch Project" more than most because I went into it blind and believing.)

For that reason, I'm not sure how much I actually want to say about the story. When I got the book, I began reading it right away just because I was in a reading mood. Then I couldn't put it down. I wanted to, though. I felt like throwing up at least four or five times while reading it.

I wasn't finished with the story when I had to put the book down to go make a living. After I'd put it down I was reluctant to pick it up again. I'd pass by it on the bookshelf and give it the stink eye.

Then, finally, the other night all the circumstances collided making it the right time to finish this book.
It's a slim read, practically a novelette. But it's a testament to Oates' abilities. She knows just how to turn a phrase, flip syntax, reroute a time line - like a puppet master pulling at the threads of your emotion.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By MFS on May 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Zombie repulsed me. The narrator, Quentin P., is loathsome, sick. But in Oates' hands, the brutal serial killer becomes someone we almost know. Oates plunges us into Quentin's world and forces us to acknowledge that his madness is not without its own twisted logic. You see, all Quentin wants is someone in his life he can love and control completely. Zombie's horror is not so much in what Quentin does, but in how he recounts it: He describes his crimes the way my son might talk about his day at school. Zombie is short and taut, more like the novels Oates pens under her pseudonym, Rosamond Smith, than like her longer works. Gruesome, yes, but a compelling read.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this short and startling 1995 novel, Joyce Carol Oates again proves her expertise and versatility as a writer by getting inside the mind of a serial killer. The book is written as a diary, with bizarre capitalizations and crude drawings. She uses simple prose as the serial killer's dark obsession and demented scheming becomes clear and the reader is drawn into the workings of his mind. It is horrifying. The tension never lets up as one victim after another falls victim to his needs. The worst part is that we have all read the papers and know that there are really sickos like this out there in the world.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Laura O on July 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Like many of other Oates' books, she gets to the heart of human ugliness and horror, and leaves you feeling as though you could understand, if not be there yourself one day. The main character, Quentin P___, is not exceptionally intelligent, but manages to get through everyday life appearing quite normal while his thoughts are disturbing, feverish obsessions of creating a perfect sex toy - a "zombie" that will service him as desired. This one's hard to get out of your mind after you read it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Zombie," the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, is narrated in the first person by Quentin P___, the son of a distinguished professor. On probation for an incident involving an underaged boy, Quentin becomes obsessed with a horrific plan: to kidnap and lobotomize another human being, thus turning him into a "zombie" sex slave.
"Zombie" is a gripping, suspenseful read. Oates' superbly crafted prose really brings you into a mind that is cunning and methodical, yet strangely childish. As Quentin narrates his bloody efforts to create a zombie, he also recalls formative events of his past.
"Zombie" contains many graphic scenes of horrific violence and sex. It is a story of psychological horror that reminds me of some of the work of seminal master Edgar Allen Poe. Oates' horror here is not supernatural, but based in the real phenomenon of the obsessive-compulsive serial murderer. The book is unsettling; what is Oates trying to say? How are we supposed to understand Quentin? But I think the troubling ambiguity is part of the brilliance of "Zombie."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
always the author who plunges into the darker aspects of middle-american life, joyce carol oates chose jeffrey dahmer as the subject of her novel "Zombie." her novels and short stories tend to sordidly dig into the dark psychological turmoils of those who live in a "normal" household.
to oates, dahmer could not have been a better subject on which to base a novel. he was from a typical family and spent most of his childhood living in smaller ohio towns. oates manages to successfully show the transformation from troubled boy to serial killer. this is a superb book if anyone cares more to learn about the psychological churnings inside a serial killer's mind than to learn about the tabloid details of dahmer.
oates subtly shows america its own scars (particularly in the aspect of sexuality) in "Zombie." she attempts to show our poisons and how this can affect an unstable boy into becoming a man that we fear, a man one would label "a monster," as we tend to over-simplify. however, oates makes it clear that there are no monsters, only products of a dying society.
definitely one of her better novels, "Zombie" urges the reader to re-think about the ways american society works. "Zombie" also helps him gain a better understanding of the progression from "innocent boy" to "monster." she does this with ease, as it is obvious that oates researched psychological studies on serial killers in order to better write her novel. she understands many subtle keys which make QP (the character based on dahmer) a believable serial killer. QP obsesses over "squirrel" (the code name he has given to a young boy), who, in turn, bears striking similarities to an old love of QP.
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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.

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