“Zombie” A Book Review

It’s been a while since I had a serving of fucked-up material, but Joyce Carol Oates’ 1995 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel book Zombie, certainly qualifies.

Apparently, Oates based the character in the book, Quentin P., on Jefferey Dahmer — you know, the sexual psychopath that ate his “conquests.”

P is most certainly one fucked up individual. He wants a zombie, i.e., a fuck toy that does his bidding and calls him Master. To achieve this, he needs to lobotomize them, but he just can’t get the darn technique down right. And all his “specimens” keep dying. Most of his specimens are blacks, drug addicts and so on; people that won’t be missed. Then he finds a white boy in the suburbs that he wants and he obsesses over.

He stalks him, plans out his attack (which is just brutally brilliant) and acts. The police suspect him as a registered sex offender, but they don’t find any evidence.

Meanwhile, his parents and grandmother just think he’s swell. He just needs a chance!

But the whole book goes on in P’s voice; it almost reads like one of those journal books we’d find after a mass shooting or some such. It’s an entry into the mind of a depraved killer and the way he justifies it all to himself.

Little things in life bore him. The conversations he has with his family or his parole officer are choppy, “He said & I said,” or other times, he liberally uses “etc.” instead of explaining fully. He does little doodles in the margins. It almost seems like he’s child-like himself.

To be sure, it’s a short book, but in that journal way, especially from the mind of P himself, it’s perfectly crafted and horrifying. All the more horrifying is that he is able to “mask” his “indiscretions” and blend in with the normal machinations of society.

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