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Carthage Paperback – 23 Oct 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (23 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007485751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007485758
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 3.1 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including 'We Were the Mulvaneys', which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and 'Blonde', which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.

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Review

‘[Joyce Carol Oates] is simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious and creative writer going, as far as I’m concerned’ Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl”

‘The ever-prolific Joyce Carol Oates is at the top of her game in this suspense-filled thriller … about guilt, punishment and forgiveness’ Financial Times

‘A substantial book that deals with truths of the type that we often do not want to confront … Oates is an ambitious writer of huge confidence … The characters … are brilliantly drawn … but what keeps you going is the writing … Oates writes about America’s big themes. Her prose is elegant. She is the mistress of all she surveys’ The Times

‘”Carthage” is not just the suspense thriller it had seemed at first sight … what it attains is a profound and poignant vision of American guilt, and its potential for some kind of absolution’ John Burnside, Guardian

‘A gripping exploration of a community in crisis after a young girl disappears’ Stella Magazine, Sunday Telegraph

‘The prolific Joyce Carol Oates is back doing what she does best – exposing the darkness of the human heart' Good Housekeeping

‘Joyce Carol Oates is … a rare example of a prolific author who has managed to maintain her reputation as a serious literary novelist … “Carthage” is an immensely proficient novel, with careful and elegant prose, and interesting experiments with form … an intriguing and unpredictable read. Oates succeeds in portraying the complex damage done to the fabric of a society by war – no matter how far away it is’ Frances Perraudin, Observer

‘Her characters are created with a Dickensian sharpness of detail, and their relationships with one another are often involving; her language is rough-hewn and lovely; her plots are suspenseful and artfully made … Her new novel is her most substantial in some time’ Edmund Gordon, Sunday Times

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’, which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and ‘Blonde’, which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Brown on 9 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Joyce Carol Oates, America's greatest living writer, rarely fails to deliver a compelling and emotionally engaging novel, and that is certainly the case with Carthage. The story is one of her best, and the structure of the work is truly masterful (she has always fixated on the structure of novels, occasionally to the detriment of other aspects), but stylistically speaking, it's not one of her finest accomplishments, as the quality of the writing varies throughout the work. There are some truly clumsy sentence constructions here, which occasionally hinder the reading experience. I agree with another reviewer that the novel seems rushed through; one gets the feeling as her mortality grows ever closer that she's not as fastidious in her revisions as she once was, which is kind of understandable. And yet there are passages in this novel that are close to sublime, foremost being the account of Cressida's time spent in Florida, which has a different mood from the rest of the novel. The mystery present in the novel has nothing to do with the disappearance, but rather with the dynamics of the family, any family, and the way changes wrought on it by circumstance and fate mangle these dynamics and make life a constant bewilderment. JCO said in a past interview that her books are not sending a specific message to the reader, as she is not a propagandist, but that is not strictly true. One of the main thrusts of this book is her scorn and contempt for American involvement in the Iraq war and the blind patriotism that followed on from 9/11. Witness the relish with which she describes the horrors and callous behaviour of soldiers in that war. However the characters are always the main motive for Oates, and the way she unfolds the inner lives of the characters in this book is superb, as ever.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alumine Andrew on 14 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I have not read this author before, but based on the strength of this book, I will definitively read more of her work.

This is a story that took me by surprise because it tackles a girl's disappearance in a way I have not read about elsewhere. We are introduced to a seemingly 'normal 'family, in the town of Carthage. It comprises of two daughters and two parents. the older daughter is thought of as the nice, clever one, beautiful one and the younger daughter, as special and plain. As a reader I thought she has autistic traits or is on the spectrum at least. She is a gifted artist but her view of and interpretation of the world around her is somewhat off.
The older daughter is engaged to a soldier, who upon returning from Iraq, is damaged physically and emotionally. He is deeply changed and rejects the unconditional love shown him.

The family breaks apart when the younger daughter disappears. There is no trace of her after she is seen leave a local bar and the main suspect is the young soldier. So far, so much like any other novel. Read on. I won't tell you what happens next, but it is a novel full of surprises.

The author very skilfully explores issues of identity, family, veterans returning who are damaged in many ways, and whether it is possible to fully love and fully forgive. I highly recommend this novel and will seek out more by this talented author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MS MAXINE R KLEIN on 30 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book takes you on a journey with many unexpected twists and turns. The story of murder, loss, family life and about the fate of veterans from "the war on terror" is told through the points of view of each character. It starts with the disappearance of a young woman and her father's frantic and unsuccessful search for her. We then hear of the effect of her disappearance from her mother's point of view. The story then covers the experiences of her suspected murderer before back tracking to the voice of the missing daughter. The plot is long and involved with the personalities of the characters slowly emerging and changing through their experiences.

It is a story of how people deal with loss, loneliness and misunderstanding. It is a poignant description of how even a loving family can fail to help one another. It contains so many psychological truths that it deserves to be retread slowly rather than raced through in order to find out what happens.

This is the first book that I have read by Joyce Carol Oates. I am delighted to find out that there are many more to read.

****
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 April 2015
Format: Paperback
The best book I've read in months. Moving, deeply emotionally invested in its characters. A meditation on the effects of war, violence, the morality of the death penalty, the treatment of soldiers after war, the effect of grief on families, etc etc etc. It's a big book with big themes. This is Joyce Carol Oates' best book since We Were the Mulvaneys. It's powerful, detailed, and relentlessly focussed on its tragedies (if that sentence puts you off then this is not the book for you!) I LOVED Cressida - never have I come across a more convincing late adolescent troubled girl. The whole book has the true, ineluctable trajectory of all great tragedies. It's wide in scope and tender in the treatment of its characters, with a sliver of ice at its core. A brilliant book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This ambitious American novel is more than a crime thriller about a missing girl, gifted but plain, naïve and unstable Cressida, and Brett Kincaid who is suspected of harming her. Once an admired local sporting hero, he has returned, a physical and traumatised wreck from the Iraq war, the pressures of which have just brought to an end his longstanding engagement to Cressida’s beautiful elder sister Juliet. The author is also exploring the impact of the war on a small town community in New York State, and exposing the counterproductive effects of neglectful and cruel US high security penal institutions. On yet another level, this is a kind of modern fable, comparing the US with the declining state of Carthage, re-enacting in C21 terms the classical tale of “false Cressida”, the betrayer and bringer of misfortune to herself and others.

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific and celebrated writer, with a clear compulsion to tell stories based on complex moral issues. She is often strong on creating diverse, if somewhat stereotyped characters who prove to have complex depths, convincing dialogues, and a vivid sense of place. The continual use of stream of consciousness in this novel carries the reader along, if you can “tune in” to it, and is effective in creating a sense of people’s changing, often fragmented, confused and changing thought processes.

What could have been an outstanding novel gives the impression of having been written in a rush. There is a breathless quality to the great flooded river of prose: the overuse of exclamation marks and brackets often grated on me. There is a good deal of repetition, which has a hypnotic effect but may be the result of a lack of editing.
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