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Where others fear to tread!,
This review is from: Carthage (Paperback)
The difference between a writer and a great writer is that the latter will produce a piece of work which is at once engaging, it may provoke you as well as endeavour to make you consider viewpoints which you may not agree with. Throughout her long and varied career, Joyce Carol Oates has produced fiction and non-fiction which are frequently not ‘easy’ reads, they will challenge you, making you question your moral codes and often offer alternatives which you may struggle with. She never shies away from controversy which is what makes her work so exciting to read.
With Carthage, she has once again created a work of fiction which delves deep into the dark side of American society, looking at the effects of its’ war on terror has had on individuals and communities. Readers of Oates are well aware of her mastery of the ‘psychological’ thriller, and in Carthage she once gives us a master class in the genre but also produces a highly readable, intense work of fiction. The novel centres around the disappearance of Cressida Mayfield, the daughter of the former mayor of Carthage, she was last seen with her sister’s ex-fiancé, Corporal Brett Kincaid, a veteran of the Iraq war who has suffered huge trauma to both his mind and body. As the story unfolds, we witness the impact of her disappearance on those involved, how there is a blurring of what is truth and what is not, and how we as human beings attempt to overcome tragedy turning to places and people we would never usually contemplate.
This is not just a ‘psychological’ thriller, it is an examination of war and its effects upon our psyche, it is also a condemnation of the American justice system and at it’s heart is the disintegration of a person’s or persons’ inner core. It is well documented that Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific writer, it is as if her desire to write is as necessary as her need to breath, does this mean her ability as a writer is weakened, the answer is no, her work contrives to tread where other writers would stumble.