Toward the end of October, a friend of mine lent me three books that he read for a class on horror literature, so I just had to add them to my horror lineup. Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie is the first of these.
Zombie reads like the journal of a sexual psychopath. Quentin, or Q__ P__ as he refers to himself, is the son of a respected professor who has gotten into some trouble for abducting a young boy, and is currently on probation. He is obsessed with the idea of creating a zombie: he plans to lobotomize and transform a young man into a sex slave.
What we get in these journals are the plans of a young man without a conscience. Quentin writes about his failed attempts at creating three zombies, all of whom die when he botches their lobotomies. (He is not, after all, any sort of medical professional.) He then zeroes in on a fifteen-year-old boy, whom he calls SQUIRREL. He stalks SQUIRREL, memorizing his work schedule and the route he takes between work and home on his bike, and methodically prepares for the abduction. Meanwhile, Quentin must maintain an outwardly normal lifestyle, so as to fool his family into thinking he has “turned over a new leaf.”
This book was a very quick read, and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The most disturbing thing about it is the nonchalance and objectiveness with which Quentin approaches his tasks, writing about abduction and botched lobotomies as if he were simply describing a normal day: took the dog for a walk, called my sister, accidentally killed a third zombie.
I will admit that throughout the book, I kept glancing at the picture of Joyce Carol Oates looking sweet and demure on the back cover, thinking, This book came out of her imagination? That just tickled me for some reason. I love Oates’s disturbing stories.