Tuesday 17 January 2017

Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage"

Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014

I've had this book on my TBR list for quite a while and then we decided to read it for our book club. I am glad we finally did.

As most of my fellow readers know in the meantime, Joyce Carol Oates is one of my favourite contemporary authors. Same as always, I loved every bit of this book. Every chapter concentrated on a different character and you were able to get to know them all pretty well. So, we could fear with the Mayfield family what had happened to their youngest daughter but we could also see how the disappearance influenced the lives of all the other family members. Almost a moment from "It's a Wonderful Life" where we can see how one life has an effect on so many others.

As usual, I loved the rich expression of JCO, her way of unfolding a story, of leaving hints here and there without revealing anything. She is a psychological writer as well as a crime writer, a drama reporter as well as a narrator of characters. It's always incredible how well she manages to describe a person, to so much detail that you must be convinced that person really exists. You almost are tempted to google the person in order to find out what happened to them afterwards. You feel their minds, their love, their hopes, their dreams, their guilt, their grief, everything they feel, you feel. You feel with the "slightly" autistic girl, you even understand her worries, you feel with the young soldier who came back from Iran, you feel with his fiancé who tries to live with these changes, you feel with the parents ... You get an insight into how the life of a young man can change once he joins the military and is sent into war. And you learn how one single moment can change the lives of many people forever.

As always, when I read a novel by this brilliant author, I have to send out a message to Sweden: Joyce Carol Oates should get the next Nobel Prize for Literature. It's about time!!!

We discussed this in our book club in November 2016.

From the back cover:

"Cressida Mayfield has gone missing. The ‘smart’ Mayfield girl is lost somewhere in the forests of the Adirondack Mountains. The desperate search yields only one clue: she was last seen in the company of Corporal Brett Kincaid. Kincaid is a severely disabled veteran of the Iraq War -  and was once the fiancé of Cressida’s beautiful sister.

As the grisly evidence mounts against the tormented war hero, Cressida’s family must face the possibility of having lost their daughter forever. For the deeply traumatized Kincaid, the facts of that terrible night are tangled with memories of the most appalling wartime savagery. He craves redemption - and he is not the only one.

Dark and riveting, Carthage explores the human capacity for violence, love and forgiveness, while questioning whether it’s ever truly possible to come home again."

In one of the houses, Cressida comes across many authors and books:

Aristotle's "Politics"
Cather, Willa
Chomsky, Noam "Problems of Knowledge and Freedom"
Descartes, René "Meditations"
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "The Insulted and Injured"
Fanon, Frantz "The Wretched of the Earth
Faulkner, William
Humes, David' "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding"
Hobbes, Thomas"Leviathan"
Passos, John dos
Rawls, John "A Theory of Justice"
Singer, Peter "Animal Liberation"
Sinclair, Upton "The Jungle"
Quite a library!


  1. Your post has sent me on my way to order it.

    1. You won't regret it, I'm sure.

      Happy Reading and Happy Weekend,

  2. I am also a big JCO fan. I agree on the Nobel prize and they need to get a move on. She is not getting any younger.

    1. My sentiments exactly. I was really happy to see her on the list before they announced the new winner, at least someone out there has the same thought.

      Have a great weekend,