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Don't do with Me as You will,
This review is from: Rape: A Love Story (Paperback)
Over the years, Joyce Carol Oates has used the short novel form as a way to expiate her literary and personal demons; subjects she only touches upon in her more "serious" novels. In "Rape, A Love Story" we have the horrible gang rape of Teena Maguire witnessed by her daughter, Bethie. Much of "Rape" reads like a police report or something you might watch on Court TV. The writing is very spare, direct, and journalistically precise: "the woman had to be drunk, high on coke herself, partying since early evening and by midnight you can figure the state she was in, how the hell could Teena Maguire even recognize who had sex with her? And how many"
The Love story angle of the title is of course not a straight ahead, direct man-to woman one but one involving a Niagara Falls Policeman, Dromoor, who finds Teena at the crime scene and who takes it upon himself to become her avenging Angel: "A gun excited him. It was a good feeling. Quickened his pulse so he could actually feel it. Sometimes a tinge in the groin"
"Rape" is not a treatise on rape, per se, nor is it wholly a comment on the tendency of society to place blame on the victim. What it is, is a serious commentary on the randomness of crime: crime that is too often fueled by drugs and alcohol. More imprtantly though it is about the devastating personal effect crime has on the victim and the family of the victim.
Like "Zombie," "The Rise of Life on Earth" and last years "Beasts," "Rape" is out to make a point about a very specific subject. Oates doesn't waste any time getting there and uses very few words in the process. "Rape" is not a major Oates work but it is an interesting, often pathetic and emotionally aware one. And as such it is of interest to all of her fans that crave a quick Oates fix before the next full length novel.