Thursday, January 12, 2012

Non-Banned Book Update

I just finished a book that hasn't been banned (that I know of), but has all of the "shock and horror" of one that is on my lists.

Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates is a novella that delves into a short segment of the narrator/protagonist, Gillian's, life. Gillian is obsessed with her English professor, Andre Harrow. Andre is coarse, frantic and anti-establishment, and his wife Dorcas is an enigmatic sculptress of primal totems. After Dorcas happens upon Gillian following her one day, she decides she's taken a liking to her, and at length she and Andre invite her into their little world.

Of course, Gillian is not the first. Many of the girls she lives with in her dorm house have been "interns" for the Harrows before, and one day while house-sitting for them Gillian stumbles upon the disturbing details of that agreement. Still, she finds that she can't stay away, and after seeing her roommates, one by one, drift away or try to harm themselves, she is not deterred. It all crumples into a ferocious climax that leaves the reader wondering if the "beasts" Dorcas creates are simply manifestations of the beasts that dwell within human beings themselves.

This was a brilliantly crafted, haunting book, and though it left me with the strong desire to take a shower afterward, I can't shake it from my mind that easily. Well done, JCO.

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