Joyce Carol Oates
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Genre: Horror (Psychological)
The novel is a first-person narrative by Quentin P., a convicted child molester in his early thirties in a college town in Michigan. The son of a successful physics professor, Quentin is serving a suspended sentence, managing an apartment building owned by his father. Quentin spends his days fixing up the apartment building, and attending sessions with his psychiatrist and parole officer. He stops taking is medication, and becomes obsessed with lobotomies, studying their methods. He dreams of creating a zombie companion, someone to be completely devoted to him, to serve his emotional and physical needs. He begins experimenting on young men, but the men die shortly after Quentin’s “procedures.” At a fast-food restaurant, Quentin spots a young teenage boy, whom he calls “Squirrel.” Quentin becomes fixated on the boy, planning in detail the child’s kidnapping and lobotomy. He succeeds in taking the boy, brutally assaulting Squirrel, who dies as a result of his lobotomy as well. After disposing of his victim’s bodies, Quentin tries to evade suspicion from the police and his family.
Geographical Setting: A medium-sized college town in Michigan
Time Period: 1990s
The novel probes the psyche of a disturbed criminal. Crude drawings and maps, uneven punctuation, as well as randomly capitalized words are included to demonstrate Quentin’s fractured state of mind. It is not for the faint-hearted, as it includes disturbing dreams of violence and sex, punctuated by gruesome amateur lobotomies and rape. Readers wishing to delve into the macabre will appreciate this portrait of a killer. There is no monster or anything supernatural; the realism is certainly more chilling.
Similar Authors: Peter Straub; Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter Series; Robert R. McCammon’s Mine; Robert Bloch; Steven King’s Misery.
Red Flags: Language; Gruesome violence (amateur lobotomies), and rape