12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
New Form, with Quirks,
By A Customer
This review is from: Beasts (Hardcover)
Beasts is the first novella that I've read by Joyce Carol Oates, and I was both discouraged and haunted after reading it. The book's premise, focusing on Gillian Brauer's obession with her professor and the twisted, bizarre relationship with him and his wife, is original. Oates does a terrific job at developing her central character, a prodigious feat in such a compact, dense genre of the novella. The plot line is engaging, as is the mysterious, liberal character of Harrow. Still, the book has its deficiencies. For example, I was dismayed not to find out more about Harrow and his wife- their past, their experiences with the other students, and what started them down such a convoluted, sordid trail of lust and debasement. ALso, Oates does not flesh out Gillian's relationships with the other characters, and she does not conclude the book decisively. That is, it would have been great to have a fuller delineation of Gillian's reflections about her college days. Still, this book was engaging, haunting, and memorable. Like Oates's previous books and short stories, Beasts is an uncanny, jarring exploration of the human psyche.