Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#6: Carthage (Joyce Carol Oates)

on March 31, 2015

Let me yell it from the rooftop: I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Carthage was the March selection of the Reading with Jacqs project that told the story of the Mayfield family. Living in a small New England town, the Mayfields have two daughters: Juliet (the pretty one) and Cressida (the homely smart one). Juliet is to marry Corporeal Brett Kinkaid, a local football star and war hero. Tragically, Kinkaid returns from Iraq with great physical and emotional trauma. Shortly after calling off the wedding, Kinkaid and Cressida are seen together at a local bar. When Cressida doesn’t return, the small town assumes the worst and Kinkaid is the prime suspect.

Carthage explores the issues of loss, grief and anger while also considering the plight of the outcast and victimized. Things are not always as they appear, and one moment’s justified anger may become repentance when truth is brought to light. One of my favorite passages of the novel comes from part two:

She’d fled. Like a kicked and terrified dog she’d fled. Like a dog she’d wished only to hide, and lick her wounds. Her shame that was a kind of wound. It did not occur to her, it had not once occurred to her, that others might have been injured as well. “But they didn’t love me. Did they?” (Oates, 330)

Oates so clearly conveys the confusion of the character as she comes to terms with her actions. Although the novel is markedly dark in tone, its text is thought-provoking and firmly places Oates among the important authors of our day. Carthage is definitely a worthwhile read.

What’s next on the list for Jacqs and me? We’re heading back to the classics and reading Great Expectations together in April.

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