Joyce Carol Oates
Zombie Cover



When did taking the reader deep inside the mind of a psychopath become one of the holy grails of genre writing? And no matter who is conducting the trip, don't we all have a pretty good idea of what we are going to find there.

That said, Oates is an excellent guide. Quentin P. is one sick piece of work, but he never becomes a ghoulish cartoon. Allowed to tell his own story, he is capable of astounding levels of self-pity and self-justification. He has the psychopath's absolute disregard for others, willing to horribly violate their bodies in hopes of creating the perfect zombie that will obey his every command. He blames his victims when they die too soon and too messily. His feelings are easily hurt by the disregard he finds in the world at large, and his disdain for his weak-willed and willfully oblivious family is his one trait that can be shared by the reader.

Many readers say they felt that they needed a bath after finishing Zombie. I felt more like writing the author a letter.

Dear Joyce,

OK. So you proved you can do this sort of thing better than most any writer who cares to tackle such subject matter. Congratulations on your Bram Stoker award. I understand that an actor has turned Zombie into a one-man performance piece. I would like to see Quentin P. brought to imaginative life. Your rendition is an accomplished but lifeless exercise in style.